17 Day Classic New Zealand Explorer Escorted Coach Tour have been pre-planned and for ease and peace of mind we have pre-booked all your accommodation and sightseeing needs to allow a truly memorable experience. Explore New Zealand on this 17 Day New Zealand Explorer Coach Tour incorporating two of New Zealand’s premier rail experiences in the South Island – the spectacular TranzAlpine and Coastal Pacific journeys.
Enjoy a fantastic holiday experiencing ‘must see’ destinations and partake in unique activities along the way. Special highlights include Christchurch, the Mt Cook region, Dunedin, Milford Sound, Queenstown, the Marlborough Wine region, Wellington, Rotorua, the Hobbiton Movie Set and the Bay of Islands.
During the course of the tour you will also have free time in Dunedin, Queenstown, Rotorua and Paihia (Bay of Islands) to experience some of the unique and regional optional sightseeing activities.
Christchurch – Mt Cook – Omarama – Dunedin – Te Anau – Milford Sound – Queenstown – Haast Pass – Franz Josef – Greymouth – Kaikoura – Blenheim – Picton – Wellington – Rotorua – Matamata – Auckland – Bay of Islands
(B) – Breakfast, (L) – Lunch, (D) – Dinner
Welcome to New Zealand. A Kirra Tours representative will greet you at the airport with transport waiting to take you to your hotel.
Sudima Christchurch Airport, 1 night
Before departing Christchurch this morning enjoy a brief city sights tour which will allow a deeper insight into the hardships this city has faced in recent times, but also showcase the vibrant new sense of community spirit and change that has been borne from the Earthquake tragedy. Later travel across the vast patchwork of Canterbury Plains into MacKenzie Country, an area famed for its history of sheep farming and its sparsely populated beauty. Next arrive into stunning Tekapo to view the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1935, and the Collie Dog statue that both overlook the powder blue waters of Lake Tekapo itself, allowing for some spectacular photo opportunities. There is also a chance to fly over the Southern Alps with Air Safaris if you choose (optional), a scenic flightseeing experience you will never forget! Later continue on to Mt Cook National Park, with its extraordinary scenery and awe-inspiring soaring peaks to view the iconic Mt Cook (Aoraki) itself, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Tonight you will stay in Omarama, a village whose name in Maori means ‘place of light’. (B, D)
Heritage Gateway Hotel, 1 night
Pass large hydro lakes as you travel down the Waitaki Valley this morning, pausing at historic Oamaru with its collection of limestone heritage buildings and beautifully preserved Victorian Precinct. Next arrive into Dunedin – the “Scottish” city, which is known for its vibrant university community as well as being home to the world’s steepest street! Discover Dunedin’s striking heritage buildings on a brief city tour and view the thriving city centre area, named the Octagon, as well as the railway station. Your early arrival allows the choice of excellent optional activities and your Coach Captain will be happy to assist you. Why not take a ride on the iconic Taieri Gorge Railway for striking scenery and dramatic photo opportunities, or perhaps you would prefer to indulge yourself on a guided tour through Dunedin’s iconic Cadbury’s Chocolate Factory or Speight’s Brewery. (B, D)
Cargills Hotel, 1 night
This morning venture out onto the stunningly beautiful Otago Peninsula, home to lush green rolling hills, gorgeous coastal views and an abundance of wildlife. Here you will discover the historic Larnach Castle, located dramatically on the top of a flattened hill with views that extend back over the bay and Dunedin itself. Enjoy a guided tour of this fascinating grand old house, lovingly restored to its former glory after years of neglect. Discover the scandalous and tragic story behind the castles original owners before setting off across rich farmlands to the agricultural towns of Gore and Lumsden. Continue your journey inland towards the isolated Fiordland National Park area, stopping at the shores of Lake Te Anau, a moody lake which marks the entry to the untouched forests and mountains beyond. If time permits you may like to take the opportunity tonight of visiting the fascinating Te Anau Glowworm Caves which are located a scenic cruise away across the other side of Lake Te Anau (optional and at own expense). (B, D)
Distinction Luxmore Hotel, 1 night
Today is a certain highlight of your New Zealand journey as you venture deep into the vast wilderness of Fiordland, with its dense forest, deep lakes and ocean flooded valleys. Follow the Eglinton and Hollyford Valleys where the beech forests reach right to the roads edge and mighty snow capped peaks tower above. Descend into the Cleddau Canyon to reach majestic Milford Sound dominated by Mitre Peak, a fjord once described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘Eighth wonder of the world’. A launch cruise takes you right through to the open sea, the colossal walls rising on either side in sheer cliffs that will dwarf your tiny vessel. View the Bowen and Stirling Falls as they crash down the cliffs and if you are lucky even witness a splashing seal or two. After your spectacular journey through Milford Sound you will return to your coach and begin your drive back to Te Anau, before setting off for Queenstown via the winding shores of Lake Wakatipu. Tonight enjoy spectacular views over Queenstown as you ride the scenic Skyline Gondola to the summit of Bob’s Peak for a delicious fresh New Zealand buffet dinner like no other. Take in the absolutely breathtaking panoramic views from the Skyline Restaurant and enjoy a unique night out. (B, D)
Rydges Queenstown, 2 nights
A day to explore the many delights of this stunning alpine resort. Try the world renowned Shotover Jet, an excursion to Skippers Canyon in search of gold or a steamer cruise aboard the historic TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. You may even wish to travel by Double Decker Bus to quaint Arrowtown or even attempt a bungy jump. Your Kirra Tours Coach Captain will be more than happy to assist in booking any optional sightseeing. Alternatively, relax and explore Queenstown’s many boutiques and galleries. (B, D)
Pass picturesque Lake Hayes this morning, travelling through an area steeped in fascinating history relating to early settlement and the goldmining era, before arriving into Lake Wanaka. After pausing to admire this scenic spot, you will continue on your way past Lake Hawea and the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka to Makarora, before finally you enter the dense bush and winding mountain roads of the Haast Pass. Travel through the Mt Aspiring and Westland National Parks before you finally descend out of the mountain ranges to arrive at the West Coast. This spectacular stretch of coastline extends far north to the Glacier Regions, hemmed in by the ocean on your left and the lofty heights of the ranges on your right. Enjoy the wild coastal scenery as you pass windswept isolated beaches and dense bushland before reaching your destination, the township of Franz Josef. (B, D)
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, 1 night
Snowcapped Southern Alps dominate the skyline as
you pass dense bush, tiny landlocked lakes and small
pockets of farmland. Visit a Pounamu (also known as
Greenstone or Jade) factory. Pounamu is considered a
treasure in Maori culture and is seen as a sign of status
and power. It is a hard, highly valued stone found only
on the south island. It was often given as gifts to seal
important agreements. See how jewellery is created
out of this amazing green stone. Join the TranzAlpine
train in Greymouth and travel through rainforests to
Otira, pass the snowcapped peaks of the Southern
Alps, the rugged Gorges of the Waimakariri River and
cross the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch. (B, D)
Sudima Christchurch, 1 night
This morning you will join the Coastal Pacific Train for a kaleidoscope of panoramic views, travelling north across fertile Canterbury farmland and through the Hundalee Ranges. With rising mountain ranges in the distance, follow the Pacific coastline to Kaikoura where you will disembark to enjoy some free time. Kaikoura was originally founded as a centre for whaling and in fact the home of the very first pioneering family, still standing today, was actually built with a supporting foundation of whale bone! These days Kaikoura is still famous for its abundance of sealife. Whales are still often seen along the shore and whale watching has become one of the area’s most popular activities, although dolphins, seals and birdlife are very common as well. Next reboard your coach and begin the journey to Blenheim where a short tour of the area includes a visit to Yealands Estate Winery. Located in the famous New Zealand wine growing region of Marlborough, here you will discover and taste a range of famous local wines (purchase if you wish) followed by a movie and tour, before you head to gorgeous Blenheim where you will stay the night. (B, D)
Scenic Hotel Marlborough, 1 night
Drive north to Picton this morning, a charming tiny village and a gateway that leads into the spectacular Queen Charlotte Sound, part of a collection of drowned river valleys that extend out from the tip of the South Island, and which are also home to some of the most picturesque coastal scenery in New Zealand. Enjoy a cruise on the Interislander Ferry as you cross Cook Strait and arrive into Wellington Harbour. As the Capital City of New Zealand, Wellington is well known for being a vibrant and progressive community, iconic for its art festivals, involvement in the modern global film industry, buzzing cafe culture, and also for being home to New Zealand’s most famous museum, Te Papa. A city tour includes the summit of Mount Victoria for views over the city and its harbour, the Houses of Parliament and distinctive “Beehive”, Wellington Cathedral, the central city and business area and Oriental Bay. Later why not explore yourself (time permitting), taking the opportunity to visit Te Papa’s extraordinary displays or even take a Cable Car ride for some spectacular views! (B, D)
Leave Wellington behind this morning as you travel north past rolling picturesque hills on your way to Paekakariki, a stunning coastal region with views that extend over Kapiti Island. Continue through agricultural towns and pass idyllic rolling farmlands as you draw nearer to the central North Island National Park, a region dominated by the volcanic Mt Ruapehu. Follow this Desert Road to Lake Taupo and pause at New Zealand’s largest lake, famous for trout fishing and a popular holiday spot. Next view the mighty Huka Falls where the full force of the Waikato River pours through a narrow chasm and crashes into the river below, before skirting massive pine forests to reach Rotorua, an important centre of Maori culture and a region famous for its fascinating geothermal activity. (B, D)
Sudima Lake Rotorua, 2 nights
A sightseeing tour visits the Agrodome for a fun and informative display featuring New Zealand’s various sheep breeds and a shearing demonstration by a true Kiwi farmer. After meeting the animals you will continue on to the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, arriving at Te Puia to be greeted at the gates by twelve awe-inspiring Guardians, each carved from wood with a distinctly unique expression and representing the divine realms. After this extraordinary arrival, you will enter the inspiring Maori Arts and Crafts Centre which aims to preserve Maori culture and traditional arts for generations to come. Discover this fascinating reserve which also showcases some of Rotorua’s best thermal activity, with its boiling mud, silica terraces and Pohutu Geyser. After your visit you will enjoy a free afternoon, allowing you to try out some optional activities if you choose. Your Coach Captain will be happy to assist you in making any bookings or in providing suggestions. This evening you will discover the Tamaki Maori Village. You will be greeted by imposing warriors who will perform the Powhiri (traditional Maori welcome) before you walk through a forest of pine trees and learn about some of the traditional Maori arts. Later enjoy the Maori hangi (traditionally prepared meats and vegetables) which has been slow cooked beneath the earth using hot stones, as well as enjoying a selection of more conventional dishes. Be inspired by a concert and cultural performance featuring stirring Maori songs, haunting chants and the famous haka. (B, D)
Cross the Mamaku Ranges this morning and leave Rotorua behind, travelling into the lush farmlands of the Waikato, a peaceful and idyllic area noted for dairy farming and its horse studs. Arrive into Matamata and meet your guide who will escort your group on a fun and interesting Hobbiton Movie Set and Farm Tour, taking a deeper look behind the scenes of the filming for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Take a drive through this stunning 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Range whilst hearing about how the Hobbiton Set was created. Lastly, relax in the Green Dragon, a fun authentic style Inn just like that in the films. Later travel north to cross the Bombay Hills to reach New Zealand’s largest city – Auckland. A city tour will visit the summit of SkyTower, at 328m the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, for superb city and harbour views over the downtown area and Waterfront Drive. (B, D)
Rydges Auckland, 1 night
Cross Auckland’s distinctive Harbour Bridge for the drive north along the scenic Hibiscus Coast, admiring the numerous stunning beaches as you travel onwards through Kawakawa to Paihia in the beautiful Bay of Islands. Here you will be met by a local Maori guide who will travel with you to the famous Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds. Once at the Treaty House and Grounds, you are free to explore at your own pace. Later this afternoon take a launch cruise across the idyllic Bay, discovering the area’s world renowned game fishing grounds made famous by Zane Grey, before viewing the lonely isolated Cape Brett Lighthouse and spectacular “Hole in the Rock”. Return through the inner islands with their beautiful sandy beaches, sparkling waters and marine life. (B, D)
Tanoa Hotel Paihia, 2 nights
A day free for you to relax and enjoy the many optional activities available. Your Kirra Tours Coach Captain will happily assist with all details. We highly recommend a full day tour to Cape Reinga, New Zealand’s northern most point. At Cape Reinga you view the blending of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean and get an understanding of the Maori myths and legends of the area, go sand boarding down the giant sand dunes and travel along Ninety Mile Beach, the highway of the north. (B, D)
Travel south today through Whangarei and Warkworth, passing a satellite tracking station and lush rolling scenery until you reach the charming village of Matakohe. This pretty town is home to the award winning Kauri Museum, a locally created treasure-trove of pioneering clothing, equipment and history. Particularly fascinating are the household objects and jewellery carved from precious Kauri Amber which once belonged to local families, as well as the extraordinary wealth of information about the Kauri trees themselves, so important to the early settlement of New Zealand. After this continue on to Auckland for an afternoon at your leisure. This evening why not take a stroll down to Auckland’s vibrant Viaduct district or check out the cafe culture evident in the city’s winding laneways. (B, D)
Rydges Auckland, 1 night
Today it is time to say farewell to your travelling companions. You will be transferred to the Auckland International Airport to join your flight home. (B)
Highlights of this trip:
· 16 nights accommodation
· Dining inclusions – 16 Breakfasts, 15 Dinners
· City Highlights Tours in Christchurch,
Wellington & Auckland
· Brief tour of Dunedin
· Olveston House
· Larnach Castle
· Milford Sound Cruise
· Skyline Skyride & Dinner, Queenstown
· Brief tour of Lake Wanaka
· Visit Fox Glacier
· Visit to Greenstone (Jade) Gallery
· TranzAlpine Train Journey
· Coastal Paciﬁc Train Journey
· Brief Tour of Blenheim
· Yealands Estate Winery Tour & Tasting
· Interislander Ferry Crossing
· Te Papa Museum
· Visit to Huka Falls
· Agrodome Sheep Show
· Te Puia Thermal Reserve
· Authentic Maori Village, Hangi
& Concert, Rotorua
· Brief Rotorua Tour
· Waitomo & visit to Glowworm Grotto
· Entry to Skytower
· Kauri Museum
· Wonderful Bay Of Islands
· Waitangi Treaty Grounds
· ‘Hole in the Rock’ Cruise
16 nights in centrally located 3.5 star hotels
Please contact us for departure dates and availability.
The Agrodome is one on New Zealand’s most loved tourist attractions. Located just 10 kms north of the Rotorua CBD, the Agrodome is home to the multi award winning Sheep Show . This famous Rotorua ....
See first hand why Auckland is regarded as one of the best cities in the world to live in, as you join this half day tour around the central city and picturesque suburbs. Our journey begins with a sh....
On tour we will view some of the areas affected by the earthquakes, see how Christchurch is preserving some of its iconic heritage buildings and hear about the exciting ....
Explore Dunedin's most interesting sites and get a real taste of what the city has to offer. We show you student culture, local history, rampaging Jaffas and other gen....
Cruise through the sheltered waters of the Bay of Islands on Dolphin Seeker, a purpose built dolphin and whale watching catamaran. Enjoy the large outdoor viewing decks as we cruise past the islands of....
Interislander is the New Zealand ferry service which crosses the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The 92 km, three hour journey between We....
Bottom Bus provide a scheduled coach service and fully guided tour to Larnach Castle twice daily (except Christmas Day). This service leaves the Dunedin Visitor Centre....
Get up close and personal with Milford Sound on our leisurely Nature Cruise. As you cruise the length of the fiord, learn about the history of the region and benefit from the knowledge of your spec....
A truly captivating experience awaits visitors to Auckland's Sky Tower. At 328 metres, it is the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers breathtaking views ....
Marvel at the stunning views as you ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere! Sit back and relax as the best views in....
Be welcomed into an authentic Maori village nestled in Rotorua forest, discover Maori art forms, ancient rituals and traditions, experience thrilling song and dance, a....
Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, renowned for being bicultural, scholarly, innovative, and fun. Our success is built on our relationships with and ability to represent our community. O....
For over 45 years, we have welcomed visitors to our place, to hear our stories, to enjoy our unique culture and to experience first hand the wonders of Mâori arts and crafts. Te Puia is home to the....
Truly one of the world’s great scenic train trips through the dramatic contrast of dry beech forests and tussock land on one side of the Alps and lush green landscapes on the other. From Christc....
The essential element of your Bay of Islands visit is the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the Birthplace (Te Pitowhenua) of New Zealand. It was here on February 6th, 1840, that the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zeala....
More than 30 million years ago, the legend of Waitomo began with the creation of limestone at the bottom of the ocean. Now these limestone formations stand as one of New Zealand's most inspiring natu....
The perfect introduction to Wellington City! Visit all the must-see sights and attractions, as well as venturing out for a leisurely cruise around our rugged Southern ....