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NEW ZEALAND CULTURAL TOURS

Tour Code : ITTNZ-17, Duration : 18 Days

Highlights Itinerary at a Glance
- Auckland
- Auckland Art Gallery
- Cruise to Waiheke Island
- Art Deco city of Napier
- Mt Bruce Wildlife
- Martinborough a unique wine village
- Wellington
- Discover nation's brand new museum, Te Papa.
- Marlborough Sound
- Nelson - a wine, food and art wonderland
- Blenheim
- Christchurch
- Queenstown
- Milford Sound
Day 1,2 : Auckland
Day 3 : Waiheke day
Day 4 : Auckland - Napier
Day 5 : Napier
Day 6 : Napier - Martinborough
Day 7 : Martinborough
Day 8 : Wellington
Day 9 : Wellington - Nelson
Day 10 : Nelson
Day 11 : Abel Tasman National Park
Day 12 : Nelson - Blenheim
Day 13 : Blenheim - Christchurch
Day 14 : Christchurch
Day 15 : Christchurch - Queenstown
Day 16 : Queenstown
Day 17 : Queenstown - Milford Sound
Day 18 : Auckland

Detailed Itinerary
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Day 1 : Auckland Arrival
Auckland
Arrival Auckland. Instead of trying to read a map and figure your way around a new city, we will have a driver waiting for you to transport you to your first accommodation. After settling into your accommodation you will enjoy a private Auckland highlights orientation tour. See the Auckland Domain, America's Cup Village, the historic town of Devonport and Kelly Tarlton's Undersea World. Back at your accommodation by 5pm. We will make a dinner reservation for you (cost not included in tour price) at one of Auckland's leading restaurants to begin sampling some of the country's fresh and unique flavors.
Read more about Auckland
Day 2 : Auckland - art in abundence
Your first full day in New Zealand! After breakfast you have free time to enjoy near by Remuera. This up market district offers great shops, cafes, art galleries and lovely homes. At noon you will be transported to downtown Auckland's waterfront for lunch at Kermidec, Auckland' premier seafood restaurant (cost not included in tour price). You may choose from such local seafood as Blue Nose, Orange Roughy, Blue Cod, Green Lip mussels and roe on scallops while enjoying a stunning harbor view. Next stop, the Auckland Art Gallery. This is where New Zealand stories are told through the visual arts. The Gallery has the largest and most comprehensive collection of New Zealand and international art in the country consisting of over 12,000 works of art including colonial landscape paintings and early images of Maori by Charles Goldie (1870 - 1947) and Gottfried Lindauer (1839 - 1926). An optional stop is available at Molly's in Ponsonby, a comprehensive kitchen and cooking shop where you can checkout unique New Zealand cooking tools and products.

Day 3 : Waiheke day of wine and art
After breakfast you board your cruise to Waiheke Island. Waiheke is an island in the Hauraki Gulf that offers a different pace of life, stunning beaches and alternative lifestyle to the city within a short thirty minute ferry ride. Art and wine are two of the main attractions drawing people to this special place. Visit Waiheke's best-known artists in their own studios. You will see vibrant pastel, oil and acrylic paintings, delicate watercolors, intaglio etchings, drawings, woodcut prints, ceramics, sculptures, fabric wall hangings and mixed media in a huge range of styles. Enjoy a delicious lunch at a vineyard café (cost not included in tour price), then begin your wine tasting tour. Vineyards that you may visit are Goldwater, Peninsula and Te Whau, Kennedy Point and Stony Ridge. Back in Auckland around 5pm.

Day 4 : Auckland - Napier
Today you leave the "City of Sails" and head for the Art Deco city of Napier. Upon arrival you will be met by a private driver/guide who will give you a city tour and highlight the art deco history of the town center before delivering you to your accommodation. You have the rest of the afternoon free to explore on your own prior to your special evening meal. At 4pm you meet up with one of your B&B hosts who is also a chef! Enjoy your private cooking class and learning about unique New Zealand produce, meats and cooking styles. Then enjoy eating the dinner that you just learned to prepare! Your meal will be complemented by a local New Zealand wine.

Day 5 : Napier - NZs first wine region
After breakfast enjoy a tour to the largest mainland Gannet colony in the world. Administered by the Department of Conservation, this area presents a special opportunity to observe the Gannet (Takapu) in its natural environment up close. Even if you are not into birds, the sight of hundreds of these graceful birds is astounding. With a wing span of over six feet they are fascinating to watch as they come in to land. Lunch at Te Awa Farm Winery (cost not included in tour price) prepares you for your afternoon of wine tasting. In 1851 French Catholic missionaries established New Zealand's oldest winery, Mission Estate. Today the Hawke's Bay region boast some of the best wines in the country. One of the remarkable things about Hawk's Bay is its ability to produce exceptional wine across a broad spectrum of styles. From early ripening varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to the later Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Wineries you may visit include: Esk Valley, Clearview Estate, Mission Estate, Brookfield's, Linden, Lombardi, CJ Pask, Alpha Domus and Morton Estate. Your day ends at Selini Winery. Here you will have the opportunity to browse their extensive food shop prior to enjoying a meal at their restaurant RD. A meal to remember! (price of the meal is not included in tour cost)

Day 6 : Napier - Martinborough (the Wairarapa)Napier - New Zealand
After breakfast an automatic full size car will be delivered to your B&B and you set out on your first left hand drive. The road for your first drive is an easy country road with little traffic and only one road to follow to your next destination. Enjoy the rolling, fertile farmland that is typical of New Zealand on your journey. A must stop is Mt Bruce Wildlife sanctuary where you can enjoy a walk through thick native bush and see the results from tireless efforts to save rare and endangered New Zealand bird species. The picture is of our favourite bird, the Takahe is to the right. Your final destination is Martinborough, in the Wairarapa wine region. Martinborough has become a unique wine village with over 20 boutique vineyards, most within walking distance of the charming town square. Wairarapa is the official name of the region; Martinborough is the unofficial but better-known wine district. Martinborough wineries occupy a tight cluster on an ancient stony riverbed to the south while Wairarapa wineries cover more ground to the north. The region is most famous for its dense, powerful Pinot Noir but can, to the surprise of some; also make impressive reds from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties. In some vintages, the region makes Sauvignon Blanc that is similar in style to the Martinborough model. Riesling and Gewürztraminer are more robust and flavorsome than the lighter, more delicate South Island equivalent. To really learn what makes this tiny area so special, you'll need to spend the afternoon getting acquainted with the wine and sunshine (what a terrible task!). Dinner tonight will be at your boutique hotel's restaurant which offers not only beautiful, unique New Zealand food but top service and charming setting (cost not included in tour price).

Day 7 : Martinborough - Wellington
You may choose to further explore this charming little boutique region or head immediately for the nation's capitol, Wellington. Your drive today takes you over the spectacular Rimutaka Ranges. Ninety minutes later you can be enjoying lunch or afternoon tea in Courtenay Place, Wellington's restaurant heartland. It is a relaxing day with nothing scheduled but your drive between Martinborough and Wellington.

Day 8 : Wellington
Today you discover our nation's brand new museum, Te Papa. Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand. Te Papa is different from any other museum on the planet; it is playful, scholarly, imaginative, educational, interactive and bold. Te Papa speaks with a Kiwi accent. It takes you inside the New Zealand experience with the Te Marae - the vibrancy of Maori culture brought close in this astonishing, living Marae. The Time-Warp - state-of-the art-time travel and virtual reality thrills, from the prehistoric to the future; from sheep-shearing to bungy-jumping. The Bush City - a living, growing, changing outdoor exhibition of the wonders of our natural world and the Discovery Centres - hands-on, interactive spaces where you can try weaving, search the collections, peer down microscopes. Your ninety minute introduction tour to the museum is specially designed for international visitors. This tour starts with a Maori welcome, and then follows the highlights of New Zealand's natural environment, art, and history, ending with a thrilling ride in the Time Warp. The art is 100% New Zealand art and offers a diverse insight into our nation. You then have the balance of the afternoon to shop, discover the Beehive (New Zealand Parliament building) or take a tram ride (called a cable car here) up the mountain side to the Botanical Gardens, the planetarium and Carter's Observatory. There are also a variety of art galleries that we will detail in your vacation packet.
Read more about Wellington
Day 9 : Wellington - Nelson
Time to leave the North Island. Board your ferry and cross from the North Island to the South Island through the Cook's Strait. The crossing offers a lovely cruise that finishes with the beautiful Marlborough Sound. At Picton you pick up your next car rental and travel along the Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock. Here you may choose an optional Greenlip Mussel boat trip. The green lip mussel is a favorite amongst Kiwis and is an important export product. They are a large mussel and their shell is edged in a bright green color, thus the name. A short boat trip takes you to the off shore mussel farms where the process of growing and harvesting is explained. If you do not want to join the boat trip the next best option is a stop at "Mussel Boys" restaurant for a big feed of mussels. The place is easy to find, it is the building with the giant mussels on the roof playing rugby! (restaurant cost and mussel cruise are NOT included in tour cost). A leisurely day traveling from the north island to the south island while enjoying the ever changing landscape.

Day 10 : Nelson - a wine, food and art wonderland
Your full day tour will include visits to artist's studios, at least three wineries and a special lunch spot to indulge in "a woolshed lunch" which includes New Zealand cheeses, local olives, home made sausages, freshly smoked fish and local fruit. At the last count over 350 talented people are turning wood, blowing glass, potting, painting and weaving, in studios that look out over estuaries, mountains, beaches and farmland. Visit many of these special place including "live art galleries" and see art works being created in front of you. Between visiting art studios, you will enjoy two wine tasting and talk with the wine makers or their knowledgeable staff. Names such as Seifrieds, Waimea Estate, Te Mania, Richmond Plains, Neurdorf, Moutere Hills, Kahurangi Estate, Rimu Grove, Brighwater Vineyards, Kaimira and many more make up the region's wineries. The wineries are scattered through the stony Waimea Plains to the clays of the Moutere Hills. Varieties produced include Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir & more.
Read more about Nelson
Day 11 : Discovering the Abel Tasman National Park
This morning you drive to near by Abel Tasman National Park. At 10am you board your cruise. Golden sand beaches, thick bush, a seal colony and glorious weather are what make this National Park so popular. Your two hour cruise takes you to Awaroa Bay where you disembark and walk thirty minutes to Awaroa Lodge for lunch. This unique remote lodge is nestled in bush and offers superb meals. Fresh produce, organic products and vegetarian meals are its specialty. After lunch enjoy a leisurely and easy one hour walk to meet back up with your boat for the cruise home. A day of sun, sand and scenery.

Day 12 : Nelson - Blenheim
From Nelson you climb over the mountains to the valley that produces some of New Zealand best wines. The drive from Nelson through to Blenheim offers an ever changing landscape. Bush clad mountains, rolling hills, vineyards, bridges, rivers, and simply lovely scenery. The Marlborough region is New Zealand's largest wine producer. The seeds of Marlborough's highly successful wine export industry were sown in the early 1970s when Montana planted the first commercial vineyard in the district. Now the region's soil types, abundant sunshine, long autumns and crisp, cool winters have proved to be the ingredients needed to produce world class wines. Predominant varieties grown are sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, pinot gris, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and uniquely Marlborough methode traditionnelle. The jewel in the Marlborough crown is its sauvignon blanc wines, critically acclaimed as among the best in the world. Your afternoon tour includes three wineries, a lavender farm and an olive producer, a bit of variety for the day! Your evening's meal will e a special one at Herzog's Winery and Restaurant. Their motto is "Wines so precious that they built a gourmet restaurant for them". Inspired by the abundance of Marlborough's fresh local products their Michelin star rated European chefs create refreshingly Kiwi meets Mediterranean Cuisine ... a subtle marriage of flavors.
Christchurch - New Zealand
Day 13 : Blenheim - Christchurch
After breakfast you may choose to visit a few of the local vineyards on your own before heading south through Kaikoura to Christchurch. We would suggest a stop at Kaikoura for lunch where you can dine on the local delicacy of crayfish (lobster). You may also choose to join a whale watch or dolphin swim trip (cost not included in tour price).

Day 14 : Christchurch - a city of culture
It is said to be a city more English than England! With its tree lined streets, the Avon River meandering through the city, the art center, and the botanical gardens it truly is a city of beauty and culture. Your personal tour begins after breakfast and takes in the city's best. A tour with Art history, art galleries and local artists (with a garden or two and a great meal too). If you are lucky enough to be in Christchurch on a Saturday or Sunday, your day will also include a visit to the market day to see the fresh local produce and crafts. Your guided tour ends around 2:30 allowing plenty of time to further explore the city on your own.
Read more about Christchurch
Day 15 : Christchurch - Queenstown
After breakfast there you have time to enjoy more of Christchurch before your noon flight to Queenstown. Upon arrival at Queenstown you pick up your final rental car and proceed to your special, last accommodation. There is time this afternoon to check out Queenstown's shops, take a ride up the gondola to Bob's Peak for 360 degree panoramic views or join an afternoon wine tour to learn and taste the region's award wining Pinot Noirs. Dinner is enjoyed at your lodge - the international chef is so good that many guests hire him to move in with them during the off season and keep him as their own private chef!

Day 16 : Queenstown free time
A day with no plans! Enjoy speaking and learning from the artist in residence, spend time with the chef and learn a secret or two, relax by the pool or Jacuzzi, walk one of the on site trails or choose one of the many adventures available in and around Queenstown.
Read more about Queenstown
Day 17 : Queenstown - Milford Sound
After breakfast you will be picked up from the lodge by helicopter. Discover a labyrinth of valleys and mountains as you fly west over the Main Divide of the Southern Alps. See Lake Te Anau and then follow the Milford Track past the famous Sutherland Falls on this extensive tour of Milford Sound. There is the opportunity to walk through native rainforest, you will fly along the fiord to a seal colony where you can land to take a picture, or choose a remote beach on the isolated coast of Fiordland. A glacier landing on the return flight enables you to fill the ice bucket with million year old ice to chill your champagne in preparation for your lunch at a goldminer's cottage hidden in the mountains and only accessible by helicopter. A VERY special way to end your New Zealand encounter. Dinner again at your lodge.

Day 18 : International departure
One last New Zealand breakfast before you board your noon flight back to Auckland to connect with your International flight home.
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