• Take a ferry from Auckland to one of New Zealand’s most sensational conservation areas, the island of Tiritiri Matangi, home to endemic bird species and a variety of stunning woodland habitats
• Take in possible sightings of blue penguins and wandering albatross on a late afternoon trip to South Island, surrounded by the awe-inspiring scenery of Cook Strait and the Marlborough Sounds
• Visit the homes of local Kaikoura Maori and gain an insight into their relationship with the natural world
graduate of Otago University, experienced botanist and ornithologist
Tour assembles 1200 at Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland, for three nights. Afternoon: Waitakere Ranges, including coniferous and hardwood forests (immense kauri trees), Muriwai gannet colony on western coast.
Morning: Mt Eden (panoramic views of the city and harbours), walking tour of Auckland (with historical and medicinal explanations of indigenous plants and herbs). Maori performance by Haka the Legend. Afternoon: Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens and Sculpture Gardens.
Whole day excursion by ferry to Tiritiri Matangi (a predator-free island with regenerating forests). Chance to see re-introduced endemic birds such as the North Island saddleback and takahes (rediscovered in the Fiordland mountains in 1948). Free evening.
Morning: drive south to the spectacular geothermal region of Lake Taupo via volatile Waimangu Volcanic Valley. Afternoon: boiling mud-pools of Mt Tarawera. Transfer to Chelmswood Manor, Lake Taupo, for overnight stay.
Orakei Korako (geothermal area), Pureora Forest Park (some of New Zealand’s finest lowland podocarp forest, range of forest bird species), Tongariro National Park. Two nights at Chateau Tongariro, Tongariro.
Day exploring flanks of Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu (volcanoes).
Whanganui River National Park, Pipiriki (boat excursion into heart of wilderness region), Maori sites along lower reaches of Whanganui River. Overnight stay at 151 on London Motel, Wanganui.
Transfer to Wellington. Old St Paul’s Cathedral (early church crafted largely of New Zealand kauri timber), and Te Papa Tongarewa (national museum). By ferry across the Cook Strait and Marlborough Sounds (blue penguins and wandering albatross) to the South Island. Overnight stay at Broadway Motel, Picton.
Morning: Black Birch Range (mountains with spectacular alpine vegetation, panoramic views). Afternoon: Kaikoura (spectacular coastal scenery with fur seals along the rocky shore at Ohau Point). Two nights at White Morph Inn, Kaikoura.
Morning marine trip: look for sperm whales, which inhabit deep water just off the coast, three dolphin species and wide array of seabirds. Afternoon: local Kaikoura Maori experience.
Transfer to Christchurch. Free afternoon in Christchurch (Avon River, Transitional Cathedral, Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum). Overnight stay at Rendezvous Hotel. Free evening.
Drive through Canterbury Plains, the foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps and Mackenzie Country. Optional plane excursion over Mt Cook National Park (the highest peaks and glaciers of the Southern Alps). Two nights at Mackenzie Country Inn, Twizel.
Whole day excursion to Mt Cook National Park via Lake Pukaki for explorations of the Hooker Valley and the foothills of Mt Cook (spectacular panoramic views) or optional visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre.
Morning: Bendigo Historic Reserve (mining ruins of the mid 19th century, dryland vegetation and fauna of Central Otago). Lunch at Mt Difficulty Winery (specialising in producing Pinot Noir). Overnight stay at the Edgewater Resort, Lake Wanaka.
Morning transfer over Crown Range to Queenstown.
29 Jan — 12 Feb 2019
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accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, full board with water (except two dinners), excursions & admissions, gratuities.
travel insurance, Mt Cook plane excursion, single room supplement £690, Murihiku extension, international flights.