Waiheke Okawa Bay, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Wellington, Marlborough, Kaikoura, Christchurch, Queenstown
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
New Zealand’s laid-back ambiance and slow pace of life are ideal for senior travelers in addition to the ease and accessibility of the country’s wilderness areas. On this two-week tour, you will fly over Fjordland, cruise with whales, discover the famous Sounds, and explore vineyards and islands. Handcrafted to include a rich variety of destinations and experiences, this relaxed and private tour can run at your pace with each day being tailored to your mood and energy levels.
Waiheke Island – Slow Down to the New Zealand Pace
With many vacations, it is easy to be carried away with all of the things to do and places to see. Often, you are forced to land in large cities and to be greeted by bustle and noise. New Zealand is nothing of the sort. Although it takes a long flight to get here, and there can be no denying the jet lag, the country makes it easy to slow down and settle into a vacation-like pace. After being greeted at the airport, you will be transferred to Auckland Harbour for a 45-minute ferry journey to tropical Waiheke island. Here, you will stay at a small wooden lodge that will be perched on the sand and enveloped by the sort of serenity that you might imagine exists elsewhere in the Pacific like Hawaii.
Waiheke Island – Beaches and Vineyards
A golden beach stretches beneath ferns and indigenous forest, the ocean waters are calm and turquoise, and vineyards are scattered across the island and mark the highest hills. These can be reached by the excellent tourist bus service that stops by your lodge. Nothing specific will be planned for today, and the main focus will be adjusting to a new time zone and country. It is hard to predict what time you will wake up and how your mood will be. However, you may consider a vineyard for a lazy lunch, and try not to miss the island’s famous fish and chips for dinner.
Rotorua – A Serene Cruise on Lake Rotoiti
After two soporific days, your journey will really begin today. After the return ferry to Auckland, your private driver-guide will take you southeast across Waikato’s fertile dairy farmlands. You can stop in Karangahake Gorge to explore a gold mining past before surrounding yourself with kiwifruit in the Te Puke orchards. You will then cruise on Okawa Bay during the middle of the day when lunch will be served on board as you travel serenely to isolated coves and hot pools. Rotorua is a quiet, lakeside town, and tonight’s hotel will be on the water, where you will not need to walk far to enjoy a string of delicious restaurants and cafes.
Rotorua – Kiwi Birds and Maori Culture
Kiwis are unusual little things. They are birds that waddle about the ground after losing their ability to fly. Their ongoing future is uncertain, and there will be a sense of exclusivity when you encounter some of them at Rotorua Kiwi Encounter. Rotorua is also a hub for the indigenous Maori, who have a culture that really revers elders. A Maori community will meet you this afternoon, and their traditional greeting will be an immediate impression of proud customs. After much huffing and puffing, a chief will lay down a single feather. This message of peace can be reciprocated by picking up the feather. Formalities over, you will be privileged to enter a Maori meeting place for an evening of food, song, and dance.
Tongariro National Park – Accessible Mountain Adventure
Mud pools bubble and silica terraces glisten in the morning sun, and a geyser may burst skyward, the water surging above you many meters. Some areas of the geothermal reserve are a shock of surreal colors while others are marked by strange textures and explosive action. The highlight is how there is so much different geothermal activity in such a small space. You will only need to walk for a few minutes to catch everything from geysers to gassy vibrancy. After this stop at Wai-O-Tapu, you will make a stop at Huka Falls where the waters are blissfully turquoise as they surge into a narrow chasm.
Tongariro is an active volcano and will provide the compass point this afternoon. Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu are also part of the trilogy of cones here. Their individual features will be clearly visible as you enter a national park for a night beneath the volcanoes. One of New Zealand’s highlights will be that you do not need to be incredibly fit or have much time in order to get very close to nature. This afternoon, you will explore a spectacular landscape of volcanoes and mountains without needing to wear walking boots.
Wellington – Relaxing in the World’s Coolest Capital
It is a fairly long but beautiful drive to Wellington that mostly consists of twisting along mountain roads before a smooth straight ride into the nation’s capital. While it would be a little shorter to fly, this privately chauffeured journey will be worth it, particularly to view how the landscape transforms from volcano to rainforest to pastures. The world’s southernmost capital is a charming little place and can feel more like a village than a city. This afternoon will be left free, and your guide can provide some ideas on places to go and things to for you see. Local cafe culture is usually very appealing to senior visitors, and there are some lovely little boutiques here as well.
Wellington – The New Zealand Museum and Cafe Culture
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa finds a superb balance. Stories of Maori and settler history are presented thoughtfully, illustrating how disparate cultures have come together to create a unified New Zealand. Historical artifacts are complemented by a stunning art collection as the museum is essentially the country’s national art gallery as well. This is New Zealand’s best museum and will be the main focus of today. Your local guide will help to provide more context to some of the exhibits. Then, this afternoon, you can discuss all things Maori at one of the city’s neighborhood cafes.
Marlborough – Cruising Queen Charlotte Sound to Wine Country
Green islets rise from the Cook Strait as if the fingers of another being are rising from beneath the water. Approaching Picton, these islets soar higher, and mountain spines become thickly-clad in the indigenous forest. While Milford Sound is the most dramatic of New Zealand’s coastal landscapes, today you will see why Queen Charlotte Sound is the prettiest. The best part will be that cruising through the Sound is part of the journey that you must undertake to reach the South Island. In New Zealand, the journey is always experiential. To be sat on the deck and cruising through the sand will be such a relaxed way to spend a morning.
The ferry will dock in Picton, where you will be met by a new guide and transferred to wine country. Vineyards carpet a broad valley, and rows and rows of vines stretch between the mountains. Regardless of whether you like wine or not, this will be a serene place to spend two nights. Your lodge will be located on a wine farm, providing a sense of peace and tranquility along with all the excellent wines and food. Marlborough is well regarded as the producer of the world’s finest Sauvignon blanc. Fresh and summery, this white wine tastes much like how the region feels.
Marlborough – A Tranquil Day in the Winelands
Today’s tour can be flexible and depends on how many vineyards you would like to see. The standard, private tour is to visit one farm to get an understanding of the region’s range of wines and flavors, and then to go for a long and indulgent lunch at an upmarket winery. You can also visit the charming town of Blenheim, where whitewashed townhouses and gardens line the streets, but in a destination as tranquil as this, you do not need a clearly prescribed itinerary. Plus, like every day so far, having a private tour means that you can mold the day around your energy and interests.
Kaikoura – Whale Watching Cruise
Your drive to Kaikoura will be the most eye-catching so far, with mountains that stand majestic over Pacific waves and sun-scorched boulders. Hugging the water, you will travel to an old fishing village that is almost hidden by the mountains. Sperm whales love it here in Kaikoura. The planet’s largest toothed predator breaches and dives through the bay. You may enjoy intimate, close-up encounters with these giants on an afternoon whale watching cruise, although it cannot be absolutely guaranteed that you will witness these elusive creatures. Dusky dolphins and fur seals will also be highlights, but these will be dwarfed by your first sightings of a sperm whale. Such massive creatures can be quick to make you feel humbled by nature.
Queenstown – The Innovative City of Christchurch and Onwards to Queenstown
You will complete your coastal drive this morning before rolling into Christchurch around mid-morning. An earthquake flattened this city less than a decade ago, and you can see continued evidence of the destruction. However, you will mostly discover a city that is rebuilding through ingenuity and innovation. Gigantic graffiti murals have been used to cover up ruins, turning the city into a living art gallery, and pop-up shops and cafes fill the void left by destroyed malls. There is a lively and friendly energy on the streets, but there is not much traffic, especially in the compact city center. Christchurch is suitable for senior travelers because you can see and understand a lot without having to walk very far. Everything is close together, and you will have a full afternoon to explore. In the early evening, you will take a flight to your final destination of Queenstown.
Queenstown – Customize Day on Lake Wakatipu
After a late arrival, you will not have seen anything of Queenstown until this morning. It will be a delightful scene to open your curtains to Lake Wakatipu as it mirrors the snow-speckled mountains. You will leave your hotel, and it will be less than 100 meters to the lakeshore and promenade. You can also take a short shuttle to the cable car station and drink in Queenstown’s natural setting from Bob’s Peak. This day will be left free, and it can easily be filled with mooching around Queenstown. Should you wish to explore further, you should consider half day trips to Wanaka or the Central Otago vineyards.
Queenstown – Scenic Flight Over Fjordland National Park
Jagged peaks and vertiginous fjords cover New Zealand’s southwest. Many of these are shrouded in mist, giving the landscape an increasingly surreal feel. Most of this Fjordland National Park is inaccessible by road or even by foot, but you can only really experience it from the air. Today, you will fly across the fjords in a helicopter with a dazzling scene that will unfold beneath the propellers. You will touch down on an isolated mountain plateau, where you can really appreciate the scale and majesty of the surroundings. The next time you touch down will be at Milford Sound, where a scenic cruise shows you the wonders of New Zealand’s highest and narrowest fjord. You will return to Queenstown by helicopter, and you can indulge in some excellent seafood restaurants for a celebratory vacation dinner.
Queenstown – Departure
Rather than backtrack, you can depart directly from Queenstown’s International airport. This morning will be left free, so you can happily spend it along the lake, perhaps at one of the many small cafes. In the early afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for your outbound flight.
- Escape to a tropical island and spend your first vacation days on Waiheke
- Immerse yourself in a Maori community and be welcomed and discover the reverence that is bestowed upon elders
- Cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound and natural hot pools on Lake Rotoiti
- Experience the tranquility of Marlborough and spend two nights at one of the region’s vineyard retreats
- Bask in the beauty of Queenstown and enjoy plenty of downtime around Lake Wakatipu
- Indulge in a whale watching cruise at one of the world’s whale watching capitals of Kaikoura
- Sweep over Fjordland National Park in a helicopter and take a cruise on Milford Sound
- Discover Wellington, New Zealand’s charming and small capital city
- Search for kiwi birds in Rotorua and enjoy a majestic glimpse of the mountains in Tongariro
New Zealand has two great highlights for senior visitors. Firstly, this country makes adventure easy and accessible. Here, you can explore landscapes that would be difficult to visit elsewhere such as the alpine wilderness and very isolated fjords. You do not need to walk for miles or have a good level of fitness because New Zealand has found a way to show its remote beauty to all. Secondly, this is a wonderfully relaxed and laid-back country. There is no rush, no bustle, and no feeling that you should move any faster than you desire. Taking things slowly also makes for wonderful experiences. The locals are keen to chat, and you can spend many hours in cafes and national parks, connecting with the people.
On this private tour, you will explore the country’s diverse highlights from tropical Waiheke Island to the Marlborough vineyards and remote Fjordland. The route has been handcrafted to minimize long journeys while still incorporating a wide range of experiences. Every day is privately guided. Other than certain helicopter and cruise departures, there can be flexibility over the daily timings. Based on how you are feeling and how much you like each destination, you can choose precisely when to leave. During each journey, there is freedom to stop wherever you like, either at a viewpoint, a village, a cafe, or just to stretch your legs. In addition, your hotels have been handpicked with location as a premium factor to reduce your walking distance at your destinations.
You will start your vacation with two days on Waiheke, which is a tropical Pacific island that is only 45 minutes to the North of Auckland. Flying to New Zealand is tiring, and Waiheke is a great place to refresh and recover before exploring elsewhere. You will have a lodge on the beach, and there will be a blissful atmosphere all around. Nights three and four will be spent in Rotorua, where the Maori people will welcome you into their homes, and you will search for the iconic kiwi bird. Day five will take you to Lake Taupo and then Tongariro National Park, which is where you will experience majestic alpine landscapes without needing to walk very far.
You will complete your North Island trip with two days in Wellington, which is a compact and charming capital city. The museums are excellent here, and there will be some lovely neighborhoods that you can check out with your guide. Marlborough follows on days eight and nine and is accessed via a beautiful cruise across the Cook Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. Here, you will stay on a vineyard and find the New Zealand ambiance to be as laid-back as ever. Kaikoura is one of the world’s ultimate whale watching destinations, and cruises provide encounters year-round. You will spend day ten here as part of your journey along the coast to Christchurch.
Like Wellington, Christchurch is a great little destination for senior travelers. You can get around the key highlights without having to walk too much, plus there is not the bustle or noise that can be found in North American cities. After a direct, domestic flight, your vacation will culminate in Queenstown, where the landscape will be such a contrast to where you started on Waiheke. Mountains fringe a peaceful lake and fjords await to the west. There will be a day to do nothing in addition to an adventurous day trip to Milford Sound, which includes a helicopter ride over Fjordland National Park. You do not need to backtrack and can depart directly from Queenstown at the end of these marvelous two weeks.
Consider learning more about our travelers’ best New Zealand travel experiences by reading their New Zealand travel reviews.
$3,495 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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