- Mitre Peak
- Maori culture
- Milford Sound
- Rumbling Rotorua
- Picton Perfect
New Zealand Contrasts
- Top Performer
- VIP door to door
- All breakfasts and more
Experience New Zealand's amazing diversity
New Zealand, the ‘land of the long white cloud’, is blessed with a stunning diversity of scenery and natural wonders, as well as vibrant cities and a fascinating cultural heritage. On this exciting tour you’ll explore both New Zealand’s North and South Islands. Learn about the Maori culture, see the Art Deco city of Napier, travel the Cook Strait where Captain Cook sailed in 1779 and explore Christchurch – a city regenerating itself after the 2011 earthquake.
As your tour winds to a close travel to Fjordland National Park and Milford Sound – once described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’, before concluding with a stay at the beautiful glacial Lake Ohau.
This tour includes three nights aboard aircraft.
21 nights in hotels and 3 in flight
38 meals: 21 breakfasts (B), 1 lunch (L) and 16 dinners (D)
Saga tour manager
- Return flights and transfers
- Welcome drink reception
- Porterage at all hotels
- Tourist visa for full British citizens resident in the UK
Included excursions and visits
- City tour of Auckland
- Visit to Auckland Museum
- Cruise through the Bay of Islands
- Visit Rainbow Springs Nature Park and Kiwi Hatchery
- Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Visit to Tamaki Maori Village
- Maori concert and ’hangi’ feast
- Guided tour of Te Puia Thermal Reserve
- See the Huka Falls
- Tour of the Art Deco city of Napier
- Wellington sightseeing tour
- Whale watching in Kaikoura
- City tour of Christchurch
- Punting trip on the River Avon
- Inter-island cruise via Marlborough Sounds
- Scenic drive through the winelands and visit to a winery
- Journey aboard the TranzAlpine Express train
- A ride on Queenstown's Skyline Gondola and dinner at the top
- Visit the gold-mining town of Arrowtown
- Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown
- Tour of Fiordland National Park and cruise across Milford Sound
- Visit the city of Dunedin
- Visit the beautiful lake town of Wanaka
Use of audio headsets on guided tours
- Day 1 - 2 UK to Auckland
- Day 3 Auckland
- Day 4 Auckland
- Day 5 Auckland to Bay of Islands
- Day 6 Bay of Islands
- Day 7 Bay of Islands-Rotorua
- Day 8 Rotorua
- Day 9 Rotorua-Napier
- Day 10 Napier
- Day 11 Napier to Wellington
- Day 12 Wellington-Blenheim
- Day 13 Blenheim-Kaikoura
- Day 14 Kaikoura-Christchurch
- Day 15 Christchurch
- Day 16 Christchurch to Franz Josef
- Day 17 Franz Josef to Queenstown
- Day 18 Queenstown
- Day 19 Queenstown to Te Anau
- Day 20 Te Anau
- Day 21 Te Anau to Dunedin
- Day 22 Dunedin
- Day 23 Dunedin to Lake Ohau
- Day 24 Lake Ohau to Christchurch to the UK
- Day 25 UK
Rydges Auckland Hotel
Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge
Scenic Hotel Te Pania
Sudima Kaikoura Hotel
Distinction Christchurch Hotel
Scenic Franz Josef Glacier Hotel
Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront
Distinction Luxemore Hotel
Lake Ohau Lodge
Day 1 - 2 UK to Auckland
After taking your included VIP door-to-door travel service to the airport, depart in the evening and fly to Auckland, arriving on the morning of day three.
Day 3 Auckland
Transfer to the 4-star Rydges Auckland Hotel (4Q) for a two-night stay. The hotel is situated in the city centre close to Queen Street and Viaduct Harbour and has a restaurant serving local dishes, a coffee bar, a bar and lounge, and fitness facilities. All 267 air-conditioned rooms have a television, telephone, hairdryer, minibar (extra charge) refrigerator, iron and ironing board, safety deposit box and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure in New Zealand’s largest city, situated in the topmost portion of the North Island. With its two harbours and tempting waterfront, buzzing heart with shops and eateries, and forests and hills beyond, it’s perhaps no wonder Auckland’s Maori name of Tamaki is often referred to as Tamaki makaurau (’Tamaki of a hundred lovers’)! D
Day 4 Auckland
Embark on an included half-day city sightseeing tour and museum visit today.
Some of the highlights you may see during your tour (dependent upon route taken) include Auckland harbour Bridge and the Viaduct Harbour, which has been host to such events as the America’s Cup and Louis Vuitton Regattas. Explore the Auckland Domain – extending to some three-quarters of a square kilometre with its tropical gardens, art, and War Memorial Museum. Pause to visit the museum for an opportunity to learn about the country’s history, its indigenous people, natural history and gallery dedicated to those who served in various conflicts. You’ll also head along the waterfront Takamki Drive via the suburb of Parnell Village – known for its chic galleries and restaurants – and on to Joseph Savage Memorial Park where you can enjoy views of the Eastern Bays, city and harbour.
Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure, or perhaps join an optional ‘Bush and Beach Wilderness’ excursion. B
Day 5 Auckland to Bay of Islands
Travel to the Bay of Islands (148 miles, three hours and 30 minutes), where you’ll visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The 1840 Treaty of Waitangi resulted in Britiain claiming sovereignty over New Zealand. It was ultimately signed by some 500 Maori chiefs with the Treaty being translated into Maori for that purpose, although differences in the meanings of the English and Maori treaties resulted in subsequent problems.
During your visit, learn about this important event on a guided tour, when you’ll also visit the Treaty House, and see the elaborately-carved Maori Whare Runanga or meeting house in the grounds. Nearby is the largest Maori war canoe in the world, Ngaatokimatawhaorua, built out of two giant kauri logs.
Stay two nights at the 3-star Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge (3Q). The hotel is set on the waterfront, 100 yards from Paihia wharf and the town centre. Facilities include a swimming pool and spa pool. Each of the 113 rooms has a television, direct-dial telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, alarm clock and radio, iron and ironing board. B, D
Day 6 Bay of Islands
Step aboard a catamaran for a cruise around the beautiful Bay of Islands, dotted with some 144 islands that lie between Cape Brett and the Peninsula of Purerua. It’s an area of great beauty and as you sail the blue waters watch out for marine life that may include dolphins or even whales. You’ll head for Piercy Island, known as the ‘Hole in the Rock’ by virtue of the natural rock arch at one end and which is of important cultural significance to the Ngapuhi people. B
Day 7 Bay of Islands-Rotorua
Travel to Rotorua, the Maori homelands (290 miles, six hours). This thermal region lies on a volcanic rift stretching from White Island to Lake Taupo, and is a place of lush forests, green pastures and lakes.
Spend the next two nights at the 3+-star Distinction Rotorua Hotel (4Q). The hotel has two restaurants, a cafe, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool, a spa pool and a gym. All 133 air-conditioned rooms have a television, telephone, mini-fridge, tea and coffee-making facilities and complimentary Wi-Fi. B, D
Day 8 Rotorua
Look forward to a fascinating half day sightseeing tour, stopping at Rainbow Springs to see the Kiwi bird hatchery.
The flightless Kiwi is a native bird of New Zealand, and with feathers resembling hair, whiskers, and nostrils at the end of its long beak, these endearing nocturnal birds are the much-loved symbol of the country. The Rainbow Springs Nature Park is home to a Kiwi hatchery at their Kiwi Encounter House, where you may be fortunate to catch sight of one of these enigmatic and charming creatures. You’ll also visit the Te Puia Thermal Reserve for a guided tour. The reserve – which is also a Maori culture centre – covers some 70 acres and is set within the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley. Here you’ll find thermal pools, bubbling mud and geysers including the Pohutu geyser which can sometimes erupt to a height of 100 feet!
This evening look forward to memorable visit to the Tamaki Maori Village which lies within an ancient Tawa forest. Upon arrival take part in the Powhiri ceremony of welcome and take in the sights and sounds of the living history pre-European Maori village. You’ll enter the Marae – an ancestral Maori meeting house, to witness a cultural performance where customs, traditional dance and other aspects of the Maori culture will unfold. Another highlight of this fascinating evening will be a traditional Hangi buffet meal in a covered shelter known as a whakaruru. A hangi is a pit dug in the ground which is lined with hot stones and acts as an oven. Food is placed in special containers within the pit, and then covered over for several hours before being lifted out. You’ll learn from your hosts how the meal is prepared and be able to enjoy a meal followed by songs and speeches – a true Maori experience! B, D
Day 9 Rotorua-Napier
Head for Napier today (134 miles, three hours), stopping en route at the Huka Falls, one of New Zealand’s most visited natural attractions. The water in the Falls starts life as part of the Maikato River. As the river narrows to 15% of its original width, the water power increases until some 250,000 litres of water each second bursts out of a gorge and tumbles some 11 metres into the river below.
Spend the next two nights at the 4-star Scenic Hotel Te Pania (3Q) in Napier. Situated on the edge of Hawke’s Bay, the hotel has a restaurant and bar, and offers complimentary access to the nearby Ocean Spa Gym. Each of the 109 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi. B, D
Day 10 Napier
The city of Napier is situated in the Hawke’s Bay region which lies on the North Island’s east coast. In 1931 the region suffered a devastating earthquake, destroying the heart of Napier city. Within two years the city had been rebuilt in Art Deco, ‘Stripped Classical’ and ‘Spanish Mission’ style, but it is the Art Deco buildings that the city is best known for.
Set off on a walking tour of the city, taking in the highlights of these buildings, some of which were designed by Louis Hay who was influenced by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arts and Crafts Movement. Watch for the Daily Telegraph Building with its distinctive facade, the National Tobacco Building with its arched decoration, the theatre and the T&G Building which combines different styles.
After your walking tour perhaps explore further independently. B
Day 11 Napier to Wellington
Drive to Wellington this morning (200 miles, four hours), for a city tour.
See the beautiful waterfront with its picturesque views, look down on the city from Mount Victoria, and take in the city’s architecture including the parliament building and the Gothic-revival Old St Paul’s Cathedral. You’ll see Wellington Botanic Gardens with their section of native forest, and global plant collections, and enjoy a coastal drive where beaches and hidden bays lie awaiting discovery. As you head to the Miramar Peninsula you’ll also see some of the city’s suburbs and enjoy views of the harbour plus – on a clear day – the Kaikoura mountains of the South Island.
Stay overnight at the 4-star Novotel Wellington Hotel (3Q). The hotel is within walking distance of Wellington’s main shopping precinct, the waterfront and a good selection of cafes and entertainment. Facilities include a restaurant, bar and gym. Each of the 139 air-conditioned rooms has a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe and hairdryer. B,D
Day 12 Wellington-Blenheim
Today you’ll take the Interislander ferry from Wellington to Picton (four hours), travelling through the Cook Strait.
This 14-mile wide stretch of water separates the two islands of New Zealand and was named after Captain Cook, who sailed through it in 1770. Once you arrive at the south island, transfer to Blenheim on a two-hour coach ride. The city of Blenheim lies within the Marlborough region, home to some of New Zealand’s finest wines. Vineyards have been planted here for over 140 years and the soil, climate and famous Sauvignon Blanc grape produce the distinctive wine of the area. Look forward to sampling the wine for yourself as you enjoy a vineyard tour and wine tasting.
Stay overnight at the 4-star Scenic Hotel Marlborough (3Q). The hotel is situated a few minutes walk from Blenheim centre and facilities include a restaurant and bar, outdoor pool (seasonal opening hours), spa (charges apply) and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 54 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone, television, tea and coffee-making facilities, safe and hairdryer. B, D
Day 13 Blenheim-Kaikoura
Depart Blenheim and head for Kaikoura (80 miles, two hours), where an afternoon whale watching tour awaits you.
Kaikoura sits on the east coast of South Island and lies on a five kilometre long peninsula extending into the Pacific. During the 19th and 20th centuries whaling was practised from here. Fortunately, today Kaikoura is known as a centre for whale watching, not hunting. Step aboard your boat as you head into the waters beyond the town where you will be able to watch for some of the cetaceans that inhabit the waters, ranging from Giant Sperm and Humpback whales to Pilot, Blue and Southern Right whales, dependent upon the time of year. You may also catch sight of Dusky dolphins and Orcas, although please bear in mind that while we hope you will be fortunate to spot whales during your trip, sightings cannot be guaranteed.
Stay overnight at the 4-star Sudima Kaikoura Hotel (3Q). The 118-room hotel, opening is 2022, is situated close to the shoreline and facilities will include a restaurant and bar. B, D.
Day 14 Kaikoura-Christchurch
Leave Kaikoura behind as you travel by coach to Christchurch (112 miles, two hours and 30 minutes).
Spend the next two nights at the 4-star Distinction Christchurch Hotel (4Q). Situated in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square, the hotel has been recently refurbished and facilities include a restaurant, bar, gym, sauna (charges apply) and free Wi-Fi. There are 179 air-conditioned rooms with a television, hairdryer, minibar, telephone, safe, iron and tea and coffee-making facilities. B, D
Day 15 Christchurch
Christchurch has been a city in recovery since an earthquake in 2011 caused major and widespread damage. During your tour you’ll see some of the areas affected and the restoration process. You’ll also see Hagley Park which was created in 1855 as a public park, the nearby Avon River, and the Botanic Gardens. Founded just eight years after Hagley Park opened, the gardens have collections ranging from indigenous plants to a heritage rose garden, fernery, conservatory, and more.
After your tour, head into the suburbs and visit the seaside village of Sumner, perhaps enjoying a stroll along the sandy beach with its fringe of rocks and the outcrop of Cave Rock. Subject to the weather your tour will then travel to Port Hills where you can enjoy excellent views over the city, before returning via the gardens of Mona Vale whose beautiful displays show why Christchurch is sometimes called ‘the Garden City’. You can also look forward to a punting trip on the River Avon, when you can sit back and drift along in a traditional punt, providing an ideal opportunity to see the city from a different perspective. B
Day 16 Christchurch to Franz Josef
Enjoy a different mode of transport today as you drive to Springfield (43 miles, one hour) and step aboard the TranzAlpine Train for a trip to the township of Arthur’s Pass, situated in the heart of the Southern Alps (two hours).
The train has a buffet car, comfortable carriages with panoramic windows and an observation car, ideal for photography. Afterwards, rejoin your coach and travel over the dramatic Otira Gorge, leaving the rugged mountains for the lush rainforests of the west coast. Be prepared for weather that is vastly different from that of the east coast.
Continue south to Franz Josef village at the foot of New Zealand’s most famous glacier (145 miles, three hours), where you will stay overnight at the 3-star Scenic Franz Josef Glacier Hotel (3Q). The hotel boasts impressive mountain views, and facilities include a restaurant, spa pools, bar and laundry service. All 130 bedrooms are equipped with a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, and a hairdryer. Perhaps treat yourself to an optional Air Safari, flying over the Franz Josef Glacier, or a helicopter trip over the Twin Glacier. During your stay here please note that the west coast is an isolated area with a limited choice of accommodation, and consequently your hotel may be very busy (which may mean some delays). B, D
Day 17 Franz Josef to Queenstown
Enjoy the morning at leisure, before embarking on a scenic drive south from Franz Josef (218 miles, five hours), past Fox Glacier and over the Haast Pass into the heart of the beautiful South Westland Region, one of the least populated parts of New Zealand.
After leaving the tiny Haast village, skirt Mount Aspiring National Park on a long stretch of road with no settlements of any size. Then enter the Central Otago region, pausing at beautiful Lake Wanaka and passing Lake Hawea before continuing south to Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s most popular resorts.
Your hotel for the next two nights is the 4-star Copthorne Hotel and Resort (4Q) Queenstown Lakefront (or similar). This is a year-round resort on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and within walking distance of the central shopping and entertainment area. All 240 guest rooms have a television, direct-dial telephone, tea and coffee-making facilities, fridge or minibar and iron. Hairdryers and safety deposit facilities are available. B, D
Day 18 Queenstown
Enjoy today at leisure to relax. This evening look forward to a ride on the Skyline Gondola cable car which will take you nearly 1500 feet above the city to Bob’s Peak for wonderful views of Queenstown below. You can also look forward to enjoying dinner at the Skyline Stratosfare Restaurant this evening. During your day at leisure perhaps join an optional excursion which may include a Heritage tour of the city; a jet boat ride on the Dart River; a trip aboard a vintage steam ship and bar-b-que lunch; or a safari to Glenorchy and Wakatipuor. B, D
Day 19 Queenstown to Te Anau
A short drive from Queenstown this morning takes you to the old gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown. This delightful old town has been faithfully restored, with timber houses, shops and a picturesque weather-boarded post office sporting an octagonal Victorian pillar-box. In the small museum you can see genuine gold nuggets – prospectors still pan for gold in the nearby river.
Next travel south along the east shore of Lake Wakatipu to Kingston, passing the Remarkables mountain range. The road follows the track of the Kingston Flyer, an historic steam train that once connected with the TSS Earnslaw to provide a passenger service between Queenstown and Lumsden. The train now operates summer tourist services over a short stretch of preserved line. Your coach continues past the Eyre Mountains, via Mossburn to Te Anau (106 miles, two hours). This small township is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and it lies at the southern end of Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island.
You spend two nights here at the 4-star Distinction Luxmore Hotel (3Q). The hotel overlooks Lake Te Anau, with facilities including a restaurant, bar and free Wi-Fi. Each of the hotel’s 180 rooms is equipped with a television, tea and coffee-making facilities, a fridge and hairdryer. B, D
Day 20 Te Anau
Enjoy a full-day tour of Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound today. Fiordland covers three million acres of wilderness, and is one of the biggest national parks in the world with waterfalls, forested valleys, and scenic fjords indenting the coast. The road to Milford Sound cuts through Fiordland and is considered to be one of the best alpine drives in the world. It follows Lake Te Anau, passing through dense forests, along small lakes and river flats, and through the mile long Homer Tunnel.
Finally you reach Milford Sound described by Rudyard Kipling as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’. Step aboard for a cruise here watching for the mile-high Mitre Peak – a monument, on one of New Zealand’s most distinctive mountains, named because of its resemblance to a bishop’s mitre. Milford Sound was used to represent Nen Hithoel, Amon Hen and Fangorn Forest in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy. Enjoy an included picnic lunch during your cruise and, if weather permits, you may decide to gain a fresh perspective and fly back to Te Anau, for an extra charge. B, L, D
Day 21 Te Anau to Dunedin
Today’s journey takes you across the farmlands of Southland and Otago to the Scottish-influenced city of Dunedin, the Gaelic name for Edinburgh (176 miles, three hours and 30 minutes). This cultural university city stands at the head of a harbour, and consists of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, slate and tin-roofed houses and churches. The city centre is hilly with some very steep streets. At its heart lies the eight-sided plaza area of the Octagon where you’ll also find a statue of the Scottish poet Robert Burns. Perhaps explore the city independently, taking in the sights and architecture.
You spend two nights in Dunedin, at the 4-star Scenic Hotel Southern Cross (4Q). The centrally located hotel has a restaurant which is open for breakfast only, a bar, grill and wine bar, cafe, and a fitness centre. Each of the 178 rooms has a television, telephone, minibar (extra charge) and free Wi-fi. B, D
Day 22 Dunedin
Spend a day at leisure exploring the city, or take join an optional excursion taking scenic train ride along the Taieri Gorge Railway, or a wildlife tour of the Otago Peninsula. B
Day 23 Dunedin to Lake Ohau
This morning embark on your journey of around 275 kilometres as you first head north along the coast to Oamaru (160 miles, three hours). The main town of the Waitaki area, Oamaru has grand, stone Victorian buildings that reflect the wealth of the 19th-century gold rushes. You head inland and pass a string of pure, snow-fed lakes through the Waitaki valley before arriving at Lake Ohau, in the heart of the vast Mackenzie Country. Named after an outlaw from pioneering times, this is a region of lakes, tussock-covered hills and vast open spaces.
Drink in the breathtaking alpine scenery that surrounds you before continuing to your overnight accommodation at the 4-star Lake Ohau Lodge (2Q). Set on the western shore of the lake the comfortable hotel has a tranquil location and beautiful views. Facilities include restaurant, bar, games room, spa pools and drying room. The bedrooms at the lodge have a kettle, but do not have additional hotel facilities such as telephones or televisions. Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening. B, D
Day 24 Lake Ohau to Christchurch to the UK
Transfer to Christchurch (198 miles, four hours) for your overnight flight to the UK. B
Day 25 UK
Arrive in the UK.
Bush and beach wilderness walk
Highlights of this trip include a famous scenic drive and views of two coasts on the way to Auckland’s west coast. You can walk in the sand, paddle in the surf and explore groves of pohutukawa trees – just don't forget to wear appropriate footwear! The whole excursion takes about four hours and you’ll learn lots about local legends and plants along the way.
Optional on 24 nights itinerary
Glacier helicopter flight
Austrian, Julius Haast, first explored the Franz Josef Glacier in 1865, and named it after the then Austrian emperor. There's no need to follow in his footsteps though as you can enjoy superb views on a helicopter flight over the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
Optional on 24 nights itinerary
The Grand Traverse Flight
Look forward to breathtaking alpine scenery on a unique flight encompassing the Aoraki Mount Cook and Westland Tai Poutini National Parks, traversing 200 kilometres of New Zealand's most beautiful and spectacular scenery. Highlights include Aoraki Mount Cook, Mount Tasman and all of New Zealand's highest peaks plus the famous Tasman, Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. From the turquoise glacial lakes and valleys of the east to the lush rainforest and coastal plains of Westland you can look forward to seeing all the sights from your guaranteed window seat, with wings above ensuring an unobstructed view below.
Please note: this optional excursion may not be available if weather conditions are not suitable for flying.
Optional on 24 nights itinerary
Auckland, New Zealand
Pre-holiday extension - bed and breakfast
Spend an additional two nights before the start of your tour at the 4-star Rydges Auckland Hotel in Auckland. Your stay is on a bed and breakfast basis.
The hotel is situated in the city centre close to Queen Street and Viaduct Harbour and has a restaurant serving local dishes, a coffee bar, a bar and lounge, and fitness facilities. All 267 air-conditioned rooms have a television, telephone, hairdryer, minibar (extra charge) refrigerator, iron and ironing board, safety deposit box and complimentary Wi-Fi.