Luxury New Zealand Tour: The Ultimate Experience

A 11 day trip to New Zealand 
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The gentle spray of the sea splashes your cheeks and the soothing chants of a Maori love song echoes in the night. The firewood crackles in the warm and comfortable flame while snowcapped peaks roll over the horizon. Then, tree canopy hangs over your head shading you from the sun. This is the New Zealand you have dreamt about, where you will sail through the waterways and treetops to see the North and South Island as they were, as they are, and as you always imagined them to be. 

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General Information

Photos
Swimming pool at Matakauri Lodge. Photo courtesy of Matakauri Lodge.
Bathroom suite at Matakauri Lodge. Photo courtesy of Matakauri Lodge.
Owners Cottage at Matakauri Lodge. Photo courtesy of Matakauri Lodge.
Glowworm Grotto in Waipu Cave.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Auckland, Waitomo Caves, Rotorua, Christchurch, Queenstown

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Auckland - Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand

Land in Auckland, New Zealand and immediately see the mass of boats lingering in the harbors. They sway in the calm water. As they traverse the ocean, the sails puff and catch the breeze, pulling the boats along the coast, and decorating the ocean with layers of sails gliding in all directions. This is a testament to Auckland’s name, “City of Sails.” The Sky Tower stands above the city’s skyline, the tallest free-standing building in the Southern Hemisphere, which adds an exceptional height and color to the city’s skyline at night.

Begin your journey in New Zealand at Sky Tower, which boasts incredible views of the city. The coast spans the entire horizon, spotted with islands, sailing boats, and people strolling along the harbors’ walkways. You can almost smell the sea from the expansive observation deck, located on the tallest structure in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere. For a unique dining experience, you can visit the Sugar Club, which is located on the 53rd floor of Sky Tower and overlooks the city in its entirety. The view elevates the flavor of the Kumara Miso Tortellini, which is tender, packed with umami, and accompanied with earthy pickled beet, toasted seaweed, and mostarda

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Auckland - Explore the Exciting City of Auckland

Wake up and watch the sun stretch into the Auckland sky bringing the blue morning in with its golden shine. With the day all yours to stroll through the streets of Auckland, you can make your way to one of the surrounding islands, which are every bit as important to the culture of Auckland. From Auckland Harbour, you can set out on a ferry to the beautiful island of Waiheke. The island boasts incredible sculptures, vineyards, beaches, and is an all-around wonderful area to meander through. With dry summers and hard soil, the island grows a selection of grape varietals. The vineyards sprawl across the island intermixed with olive groves; the scent of warm clay and plush vines surround the island. Try a taste of the Obsidian vineyard’s Pinot Gris which contains an aroma of honey suckle and citrus mixed with apricot and vanilla undertones. The palate highlights complex and slightly sweet fruit.

Continue your adventure with the chance of a lifetime to glide along the bay on an America’s Cup Yacht. The sails catch the wind, the catamaran pushes along the water, salty mist flies into the air, and the wind blows over your skin. The bow dips into the water and ascends from below the surface throwing the ocean all around. After you have worked on the grinders and hoisted the mainsail the yacht moves swiftly along the water and you can take the helm, guiding the boat through the stunning blue sea. The sun pulses in the sky. The wind blows along your cheeks. And this is the New Zealand you had always thought it would be. 

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 3: Rotorua - Transfer from Auckland to Rotorua, New Zealand’s Cultural Capital

Today you will make your way out of Auckland and over the Bombay Hills to the Waitomo Caves. You can hear the river’s current in the distance. The scent of rich soil and lush prairies surrounds the opening of the caves until you step onto the boat and drift inside. The cave has a damp freshness. The smell of wet limestone emanates from the water’s edges. Drift through the darkness until you can see the speckled glow in the distance. It is as if stars or Christmas lights are hanging from the cave’s ceiling, clinging to stalactites and walls. Your guide informs you that the twinkling you see isn’t light at all, but glowworms making themselves at home along the dark, damp cave.

Continue your journey southward to Rotorua, New Zealand’s cultural capital, and settle into the comforts of your luxury ecolodge. The loa dge has graceful architecture inspired by New Zealand’s cultural pioneer history. Timber and stone echo the simplicity of the eco-friendly outdoor hotel. The soft scent of evergreen surrounds the lodge that is also inclusive of secluded native forest and a game reserve. Rooms look out over the incredibly lush forest, the gentle emerald river, or the serene opal lake. Whether it’s flaky fish you crave, succulent, roasted meats, or hardy vegetables, the lodge has an incredible restaurant that caters to your palate’s desires and can even ensure a number of delectable items harvested on the property, making the farm-to-table concept a delicious reality.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 4: Rotorua - Experience the Tree Top Lodge and Rotorua’s Vibrant Culture

Spend the day wandering around the beautiful lodge's property, strolling along the rivers, dipping your toes in the lake, or partake in one of the many activities the lodge offers, such as archery, fishing, and horseback riding. If you’re in the mood for an adventurous activity you could always make your way along the Tongariro Crossing, which is the best one-day trek in New Zealand, as well as one of the top ten single-day treks in the world. The crossing is not for the faint of heart but is, indeed, a breathtaking experience. The mountains stretch wide and tall in front of you. The furry green foothills give way to the craggy landscape of the higher altitudes. Pools of melted ice and snow collect in the plateau in a blue that most people have never seen up close, a blue that imitates a sunrise, just as the dark night and the bright morning blend for half an instant. The air is crisp in your lungs. The grass along the trail glistens, and the glory of the hike is not just that you made your way along one of the best hikes in the world, but that you had the chance to see its beauty first hand. As you make your way back to the lodge the lush green of the forest comes closer, the smell of evergreens sit before you once again, and you know that a delicious, robust dinner awaits you.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 5: Rotorua - Venture in and around the Stunning Landscapes of Rotorua

After the beauty of yesterday’s hike, take the day to relax. Sit in the sweet embrace of the hot tub and relax your muscles. The steam rises from the water and fills your lungs. The smell of wet wood ascends from the tub. The water rejuvenates your muscles and is a constant reminder of where you are. Ferns surround the hot tub and give an extra relaxing breath of freshness to the area. Time seems to slow down as you bask in the relaxation of the hot tub. Indulge in the luxury and let the rejuvenating hands of the masseur kneed life gently back into your body.

A trip to Rotorua wouldn’t be complete without a spa treatment or a visit to the cultural capital of New Zealand where you will experience the history and culture of the Maori. Take the opportunity to see their traditions in action as they paddle their way down the river in a traditional war canoe, harmonize to the tune of their guitar, their bodies decorated in traditional Tā moko, essentially a tattoo with a different method of application. The smell of roasting meat drifts from the hangi, a Maori BBQ pit buried in the ground, and settles in the crowd. The divine smell mixes with the sweet sounds of singing, as you learn about the Maori’s journey from Hawaiki to the North Island, and a people’s oppressed history and perseverant present.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 6: Christchurch - Fly from Rotorua to Christchurch

Today you will transfer from the culturally rich and scenically stunning area of Rotorua to the equally gorgeous Christchurch located in the South Island. Known as the “Garden City,” Christchurch is filled with quaint architecture, beautiful gardens, and the lovely Avon River that meanders through the city’s center. On the outskirts of the city the Southern Alps sprawl over the horizon, their peaks roll through the sky, which is an abrupt and impressive contrast from the lush green Canterbury plains. The Cathedral is Anglican, its spire is topped in turquoise, and the gray stone accentuates the windows’ white contours. The interior boasts high ceilings, arched beams and a mosaic-clad floor. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 7: Christchurch - Visit Christchurch and the Surrounding Canterbury Region

Today will be yours to explore Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury Plains. The beauty of Christchurch is immense, from the gardens’ budding flowers to the resilience of the locals who have overcome tremendous hardship in previous years from unfortunate earthquakes. Experience the city in style and punt down the Avon, which departs from two major points, Hagley Garden, or Worcester Street in the city center. The trees blossom an abundance of color, from auburn leaves to a pristine white that dangles from the branches and coasts in the breeze. Your punter will give you the local history of the city and gardens as you drift along the water. Roses and tulips blossom and lend their scent to the ride. Whether floating down the river or journeying to see the Southern Alps that border the city, Christchurch and Canterbury always have more beauty to offer, through the natural surroundings, and from the locals’ imaginations.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 8: Christchurch - Transfer from Christchurch to Queenstown

Today you will depart Christchurch and fly over to Queenstown, nuzzled between the tall vista of Bob’s Peak and the vibrant Lake Wakatipu. The breeze often wafts through the streets either bringing in the crisp cool of the lake or the sweet evergreen from the foothills of Bob’s Peak. Queenstown exudes the stereotypical beauty of an Alpine town, complete with quaint streets, decadent restaurants, a stunning lake, vibrant visitors and locals, and fantastic activities whether in or outside of the city.

While in Queenstown you will have the comfort and luxury of Matakauri Lodge at your fingertips. Set along the lake, the unobstructed, panoramic view from the rooms is either filled with the reflective blue of Wakatipu or the ever-green of Bob’s Peak. In the summer the breeze blows in from the lake and offers the sweet perfume of crisp water; the Southern Alps rise high over the horizon on the far side of the lake. In the winter the snow-strewn Bob’s Peak lingers over the city and you can spend the nights nestled in your room around the comfortable warmth of the fireplace with the soft sound of wood crisping in the night.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 9: Queenstown - Explore Remarkable Queenstown

Today is another opportunity to venture out into the city and its surroundings to see the sites. No journey to the South Island would be complete without a visit to the exceptional Milford Sound. Located at the edge of Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a perfect example of New Zealand’s ability to conserve its natural wonders while allowing visitors to experience the country’s breathtaking beauty.

Once you arrive in Milford Sound it is like entering a different world. The air is pure and smells of the cold, crisp water mixed with the surrounding lush forest. The water stretches along and through cavernous mountains, including Mitre Peak, which sits atop the mountain range and reflects in the unspoiled water. Climb onto the boat and feel dwarfed by the sound’s massive surroundings. The boat engine disappears as you hear dolphins whistle and click. Bottlenose dolphins are the most common in the area, known to jump and play in the boat’s wake. Their dorsal fin pokes above the water’s surface until they spring from the water, arc in the air, point their nose back into the sea in a perfect dive and disappear beneath the waves. Whales have also been known to swim through the sound during migration season. From the whistle of the dolphins to the crashing serenity of waterfalls careening off the mountains, Milford Sound is an endless source of wonder. It is a site so fabulous it’s a wonder if you could ever catch your breath once the sound takes it away.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 10: Queenstown - Experience Queenstown’s Gorgeous Surroundings

On your final full day in the land strewn with greenery and flooded with opulent waters, take advantage of the chance to visit Central Otago. It is easy to be both silenced and energized by the beauty of Otago, with its tumbling mountains and abundant tussocks. The open air brings clear light over the mountains and feels like you can touch the sun. The contrast of the river gliding beneath the looming mountains is impressive. Travel along the emerald water on a jet boat and skim over rocks and sandbars, as you make your way up to New Zealand’s largest waterway, the Wanaka River. You can venture beneath Mount Aspiring and see the bright blue of Aspiring’s glaciers which mix with the pristine white of the snow. The wind passes along your cheeks as you wind your way along the towering mountains, around waterfalls, watching the glaciers pass you by before heading back to Queenstown for an evening of quaint alpine city comforts.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast

Day 11: Queenstown - Depart Queenstown and Head Home

All adventures eventually come to an end. Today you will make your way to the airport and fly home. The plane will once again lift over the breathtaking greenery of the South Island, passing over the glorious mountains, magnificent glaciers, and will carry you over the deep blue waters. However, this time the images of New Zealand that pass before you are no longer dreams but memories, and the experience of having traversed New Zealand through its waterways and treetops make the journey home a little less bitter and a lot sweeter.  

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

To visit more of New Zealand, consider adding on to this trip.  Browse the New Zealand travel reviews for ideas and traveler reviews.

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final accommodation choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.