20135
New Zealand
New Zealand: An Odyssey Down Under
Explore the unique and culturally rich story of New Zealand as you learn Maori legends, colonial history, traditional folklore and ancient myths from both locals and experts alike.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20135RJ
Length
13 days
Starts at
4,599
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13 days
12 nights
33 meals
11 B 11 L 11 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight

Activity note: Please note that participants on this program travel throughout New Zealand alongside the participants of program 16434 – An Odyssey Down Under: Australia & New Zealand. You will join with these participants upon your arrival in Auckland. There will be a maximum of 30 participants travelling together on this program throughout New Zealand.

Evening: Depart the USA on overnight flight to New Zealand.

DAY
2
Arrive Auckland, Check In
Auckland
D
Mercure Auckland Hotel

Afternoon: Kia ora! Welcome to Auckland. Auckland, the “City of Sails,” is New Zealand’s largest city and over one-third of all New Zealanders live in the greater Auckland area. It has a cosmopolitan population and the high proportion of indigenous Maori and other Polynesian peoples from the Pacific Islands have contributed distinctive elements to its cultural mix. This mix has been heightened by increased immigration from a number of Asian nations throughout the last decade or two. A third of the city’s population was born outside New Zealand. The city has a unique setting between two harbours on a narrow isthmus studded with numerous volcanic cones. To the east, the Waitemata Harbour provides New Zealand’s busiest Pacific port and a picturesque setting for the central business district and suburbs. Beyond this harbour lie the superb boating waters of the island-studded Hauraki Gulf. To the west, the broad shallows of the Manukau Harbour provide ideal habitat for large flocks of seabirds in the shadow of the rugged rainforest-covered Waitakere Ranges. Beyond these ranges the wild black-sand surf beaches of the west coast are a dramatic contrast to the gentle golden sand of the tree-fringed beaches of the east coast. Upon your arrival in Auckland your Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. We have some time to check in and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At accommodation.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Orientation & Introductions, Walk Through Central Auckland
Auckland
B,L,D
Mercure Auckland Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, paved surfaces, undulating terrain.

Breakfast: The breakfast buffet in the hotel's top-floor dining room has stunning views of Auckland Harbour and the central business district.

Morning: Orientation. The Group Leader and Site Coordinator will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. This program will be staffed with both a Group Leader and a local Site Coordinator at most study sites providing information and leading field trips. Some meals will be buffets, others will be plated and served; and some we will order in advance. Beverages typically included coffee, tea, water, with other beverages available for purchase depending on location. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. To conclude our Orientation session, we will have an introduction to Auckland.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: This afternoon our Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will lead us on a walking field trip in central Auckland, introducing us to New Zealand's largest city. We will learn something of how Auckland interacts with its harbour for both business and pleasure and take a stroll through the grounds of the university. Those who wish to may choose to linger at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, a recent winner of the World Building of the Year award at the World Architecture Festival, and return independently. We will return to our hotel in time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel. We will have “Welcome to New Zealand” wine with dinner tonight.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
NZ History, Yacht Excursion, Auckland War Memorial Museum
Auckland
B,L,D
Mercure Auckland Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1.2 miles; flat, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We begin today with a well-known local author and journalist who will provide an introduction to New Zealand history. We will then walk down to Viaduct Basin for a yacht cruise on Auckland's magnificent Waitemata Harbour giving us stunning views of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the city and the surrounding volcanic cones. Our Group Leader, Site Coordinator, and skipper(s) will point out the sights of particular significance and interest. As we sail through the channel, those who wish can have a turn at the wheel, helming the yacht, weather conditions permitting. At the conclusion of the cruise, we will board a motorcoach and transfer to Eden Garden, a 5.5 acre, award-winning garden, created in an abandoned quarry at the base of Mt Eden.

Lunch: At Eden Garden, we will have we have pre-ordered plated lunches. We will have time to explore the delightful gardens briefly on our own prior to or after lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride on our motorcoach to Auckland’s War Memorial Museum, with an orientation to the layout of the city en route. At the museum, a docent will introduce the permanent exhibitions showing patterns of Polynesian and European settlement. Following our time at the museum, we board our motorcoach and return to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Auckland Geology, Beachside lunch, Explore the North Shore
Auckland
B,L
Mercure Auckland Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles; undulating terrain, varied surfaces. The order of today’s activities may vary depending on tides.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local geologist and marine biologist will join us at the hotel for a lecture on the geology of Auckland and its varied coastlines. He will then lead us on a field trip to explore Auckland's northern coastline and give us an understanding of the variety of the city’s coastal environment. At North Head, a walk will give us a greater perspective of the Hauraki Gulf and the volcanic islands that litter it.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will have a buffet lunch looking out over picturesque Cheltenham Beach and across to the cone of Rangitoto, Auckland’s most recognisable volcano and an iconic natural landmark.

Afternoon: Our field trip continues as we visit Lake Pupuke to understand how the volcanic lake and the stunning coast coexist so closely. We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon and have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to ourselves.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will be happy to offer suggestions. The Viaduct Basin, formerly the home of the America’s Cup, has a variety of cafés and restaurants a short walk from the hotel. The relatively new development of the Wynyard Quarter is a delightful stroll across the bridge beyond the Viaduct, while the Britomart precinct is located in the streets behind the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
6
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Orientation to Rotorua
Rotorua
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel Rotorua

Activity note: The drive from Auckland to the Waitomo Caves is about 120 miles (190 kilometres), approximately 2.5 hours. The drive from Waitomo Caves to Rotorua is about 90 miles (140 kilometres), approximately 2 hours. At Waitomo Caves, uneven terrain; getting into/out of boats. Photography is not permitted within the caves.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and depart for Waitomo, travelling through Waikato's rolling green countryside. On our picturesque journey, we will pass pristine farmland and dense forest.

Lunch: At a farm cafe close to Waitomo, we will have a pre-ordered barbecue lunch with buffet salad bar.

Afternoon: We will continue our ride to Waitomo for an expert led field walking trip in the internationally-recognised Waitomo glowworm caves. The glowworm (arachnocampa luminosa) is unique to New Zealand and thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves' historical and geological significance. After our walk through the caves, where we will be amazed at the clear natural acoustics of the “cathedral cave,” we will enjoy a boat ride out of the cave, under thousands of magical glowworms, emerging into a stunning natural stream setting. Reboarding our motorcoach, we will transfer through to Rotorua where we will stay for the next two nights. Located on the shores of Lake Rotorua and nicknamed “Sulphur City,” Rotorua has been sustained by tourism since 1870. It is a thermal wonderland with the most energetic thermal activity in the country including hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools. It is also an important centre of Maori culture. In the early 19th century the colonial government attempted to develop it as a European-style spa town. The impressive Tudor-styled Bath House dating from that time is now the Rotorua Museum. The area also has fine trout fishing and scenic wildlife parks. Nearby Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886 resulting in major changes to the landscape and considerable loss of life. The beautiful lakes in the region are part of the legacy of this cataclysm. En route, we will have an introduction to Rotorua before checking in to our hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, enjoy a dinner buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Maori Culture & Performance, Hangi
Rotorua
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel Rotorua

Activity note: In the morning, walking up to 3 miles; gravel pathways, uneven, steep in parts. In the afternoon, walking up to 1.5 miles; paved surfaces, some steep sections.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today we will learn about Rotorua’s geothermal background and Maori history and culture. We will travel first to Waimangu Volcanic Valley to learn more about volcanic and geothermal New Zealand. Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the only geothermal system in the world wholly created as the direct result of a volcanic eruption, the Tarawera Eruption of June 10, 1886. We will walk through this amazing volcanic landscape serenaded by the songs of the local native birdlife. At the end of our walk, we will have a cruise on Lake Rotomohana, surrounded by pristine bush and also formed as a result of the 1886 eruption. We will then return to Rotorua.

Lunch: At an historic and lovingly-restored hotel beside Rotorua's Government Gardens, we will have a pre-ordered, plated lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will take our motorcoach to Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Here we will view the Whakarewarewa thermal area, renowned for its boiling mudpools and the spectacular Pohutu geyser. We will also learn from local experts at the Institute about the role it plays in encouraging young Maori to train in the traditional Maori arts and crafts: carving wood and stone, weaving, traditional building techniques, and the like. After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: We will visit a Maori village where we experience a hangi, the traditional Maori method of cooking food in the ground.

Evening: Performance. Before, during and after dinner we experience a Maori cultural performance giving us an introduction to Maori culture and tradition. We will be spellbound by songs and dances demonstrated in a rich cultural performance, culminating with a powerful “Haka” or Maori war dance.

DAY
8
National Kiwi Trust, Fly to Christchurch, Local History
Christchurch
B,L,D
Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square Hotel

Activity note: The flight from Rotorua to Christchurch is a little less than 2 hours (depending on weather). Typically Air New Zealand uses ATR 72 aircraft on this route. Walking up to 1 mile at Riccarton Bush.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we check out of our hotel and transfer to the National Kiwi Trust at Rainbow Springs. Here we have a lecture introducing us to New Zealand's endangered national bird. We will learn of the vital role the National Kiwi Trust is playing in rearing young kiwi chicks until they are large enough to be released into the wild. After a tour of this wonderful facility we then board our motorcoach taking us to Rotorua airport.

Lunch: We will pick up a packed lunch at Rotorua airport.

Afternoon: We leave the North Island as we fly to Christchurch situated on the east coast of the South Island. Christchurch is set close to the sea on a broad plain between the towering Southern Alps and the large extinct volcanic crater that forms Banks Peninsula. It is the largest city in the South Island and the centre of farming, industrial and cultural activities for the province of Canterbury. Because of its excellent transportation facilities, bountiful water supply and abundant hydro-electric power, Christchurch is one of the most important industrial centres in New Zealand and was, until 2011, New Zealand’s second-largest city. After a series of significant earthquakes between September 2010 and May 2012, the population of Christchurch is now slightly less than Wellington. We will be met at the airport by our local Site Coordinator. We will then board our motorcoach with a local engineering geologist who will lead us on a field trip orienting us to the city and explaining the effects of earthquakes on a vibrant, modern, first-world city. As well as seeing the effects of the earthquakes we will learn of the innovative, often community-led projects helping to rejuvenate this city the locals are so passionate about. We will see evidence of the city's determination to rebuild and move on. We will then transfer to Riccarton House, Christchurch's most significant early homestead. Here we have a guided walk through Riccarton Bush - a unique native lowland podocarp forest close to the centre of New Zealand's "Garden City". We will also have a lecture on the early-settler family responsible for the existence of both Riccarton House and Riccarton Bush. Through this we will gain an insight into the early settlement of the province of Canterbury.

Dinner: At Riccarton House, we will have a pre-ordered, plated, 2-course dinner.

Evening: After dinner our Te Puna Ora story-teller — playing two characters — will introduce the experience of early immigrants to Canterbury. We will then transfer back to our hotel on our motorcoach.

DAY
9
Banks Peninsula, Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise, City Walk
Christchurch
B,L,D
Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat. The drive from the centre of Christchurch over Hilltop to Akaroa is about 50 miles (80 kilometres), approximately 1.5 hours each way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will head to the delightful Banks Peninsula township of Akaroa, an historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Some of the town's French character is shown by its French street names. En route, we will learn from our Site Coordinator about historical patterns of settlement of the local Maori, French, and other European settler populations. Upon arriving in Akaroa, we will board a boat for a harbour cruise on which we will see sea caves, volcanic formations, high cliffs and myriad nesting sites. Keep an eye out for the delightful Hector's Dolphin, the world's rarest and smallest dolphin, as well as blue penguins, fur seals, and abundant bird life.

Lunch: We return to land and are given free time to explore Akaroa on foot, just as the Christchurch visitors do on their day trips. We will get our own lunch at leisure as we explore.

Afternoon: We will regroup at the Akaroa Museum and view a video to learn about life in this small community. We will then board our motorcoach and drive back over Hilltop to Christchurch. Before dinner our local Site Coordinator will lead a walking tour of the centre of Christchurch for those participants interested in learning more about what makes this city tick as it continues its regrowth.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
International Antarctic Centre, Fly & Motorcoach to Te Anau
Te Anau
B,L,D
Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau

Activity note: The flight from Christchurch to Invercargill is about 1.5 hours. Typically Air New Zealand uses ATR 72 aircraft on this route. The drive from Invercargill to Te Anau is about 125 miles (200 kilometres), approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking of the hotel, we will transfer to the International Antarctic Centre. Here, we will get as close as possible to experiencing Antarctica without actually going there. We will have a lecture on Antarctica and Christchurch's involvement with Antarctica as the nearest mainland base for US, NZ, and Italian Antarctic research. We will explore the Centre and have an opportunity to get up close to little blue penguins. We will then transfer to the airport for our flight to Invercargill.

Lunch: We will have a packed lunch from the Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport.

Afternoon: Upon our arrival in Invercargill we will transfer to the Southern Institute of Technology. A local expert and broadcaster will introduce us to New Zealand's southernmost province, Southland. We will learn about its importance to New Zealand's agricultural backbone. We will then drive to the serenely beautiful hamlet of Te Anau, located on Lake Te Anau, the second largest lake in New Zealand and the largest in the South Island. En route, we will have an introduction to the Southern portion of our program. Te Anau is a small country centre providing community support to the widely-dispersed fishing and farming communities of sparsely-populated Fiordland. It is situated at the edge of the World Heritage-Listed Fiordland National Park and renowned for its alpine scenery and outdoor lifestyle. Checking in to our hotel, we will have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a buffet dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
Milford Sound Cruise, Gondola to Dinner Above Queenstown
Queenstown
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Activity note: The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is about 75 miles (120 kilometres) a little over 2 hours. The drive from Milford Sound to Queenstown is about 180 miles (290 kilometres), and will take about 4 hours. Stops en route. Walking up to 2 miles.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, and drive around the side of Lake Te Anau, across some of the scenic splendour of Te Wahipounamu — South West New Zealand, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape. We will drive through the Homer Tunnel, New Zealand's highest, where we may well encounter a cheeky kea (New Zealand mountain parrot) or two as we wait for our turn to proceed. At Milford Sound, we will board a cruise vessel and glide through the Sound, one of Fiordland's most picturesque fiords, where mountains stand tall right out of the sea and rainforest clings to sheer rock faces. Our skipper will interpret the stunning scenery we are cruising through. Keep an eye out for the resident pods of dolphins as we sail out towards the Tasman Sea.

Lunch: Aboard the vessel, we will have packed lunches.

Afternoon: Disembarking the cruise vessel, we will board our motorcoach and continue to Queenstown. We will travel back through the Homer Tunnel, down the Hollyford Valley past Lake Te Anau, across verdant farmland, and between mountain ranges along Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is situated on the shores, nestled among the majestic Southern Alps. Its setting is stunning with the surrounding mountain ranges, the Remarkables and the Eyre Mountains, forming a breathtaking backdrop. It has more to offer than just magnificent landscape, however; the town strives to be the “adventure capital of the world”. We will check in to our hotel upon arrival, then transfer to board the gondola that will take us to the top of Bob's Peak. We will have time to take in the spectacular views before dinner.

Dinner: Buffet dinner at the restaurant atop Bob’s Peak overlooking Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables.

Evening: After taking in the stunning views over dinner, we will hop a gondola back down the hill and board our motorcoach back to our hotel.

DAY
12
Lake Wakatipu Steamer Cruise to Walter Peak Sheep Station
Queenstown
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today we will cruise across Lake Wakatipu on board the historic steamer TSS “Earnslaw.” This iconic 1912 twin-screw steamship recently celebrated its 100th birthday. It is much beloved by locals and visitors alike as “the lady of the lake.” We will then visit Walter Peak High Country Farm for an expert-led exploration and insights into the training and usage of farmers' working dogs, the backbone of New Zealand sheep farming. It is hard not to be amazed watching farmer and dog working together in complete unison. Unless the pesky sheep have other ideas…

Lunch: At Walter Peak homestead, we will have a buffet barbecue lunch.

Afternoon: Our field trip at the farm continues. Then, reboarding the “Earnslaw” we will cruise back across the lake and return to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Queenstown independently.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant looking out over the lake, we’ll have pre-ordered plated meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Arrowtown, Fly to Wellington, Sights, NZ Political System
In Flight
B,L,D

Activity note: The drive from Queenstown to Arrowtown takes less than 1/2 hour. The flight from Queenstown to Wellington is a little less than 2 hours. Typically Air New Zealand uses ATR 72 aircraft on this route. Occasionally Airbus A320 aircraft are used. Walking up to 2 miles in Wellington; paved surfaces, predominantly downhill.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and head to the historic little former gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown at the head of the Arrow Valley just outside Queenstown. We will have time for personal independent exploration. You might like to check out the museum or the Chinese village. Depending on how you wish to spend your time there, you are likely to walk at least a mile in Arrowtown.

Lunch: Depending on to the timing of our flight to Wellington, you may get lunch in Arrowtown or at the Queenstown airport before your flight to Wellington for program 21740.

Afternoon: We will fly directly to Wellington, located at the southern extremity of the North Island, and the capital of New Zealand since 1865. Its magnificent amphitheatre-like harbour, hemmed in by rugged hills, was formed by the flooding of the crater of a very large and long-extinct volcano. It provides a picturesque setting for the city’s distinctive wooden houses (many visitors have been known to draw parallels with San Francisco) set precariously on the steep hills. In addition to its role as the seat of government Wellington is a major seaport, rail and ferry centre and a commercial and manufacturing hub. Its compact city centre is immensely walkable and is full of life and interest. It has a vigorous cultural and artistic scene and is the home of many national cultural institutions. Thanks partly to the fact that it is the home town of Sir Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy), Wellington is the focal point of New Zealand's thriving film industry. Upon our arrival in Wellington we have an orientation via motorcoach and walking with our local Site Coordinator. We will take in sights such as the cable car, botanic gardens, Boulton Street Memorials, and Premier House. From the top of the cable car, we gain excellent view of Wellington Harbour and its hilly backdrop. As the locals like to say, "You can't beat Wellington on a good day!" We will then head to our hotel and check in, dropping our bags and coming down for a lecture by a local expert on New Zealand’s political system and politics.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a buffet dinner. Our lecturer will join us, affording an opportunity to ask any further questions you may have.

Evening: At leisure.






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