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Starting in Auckland, explore the city before heading south to Rotorua perhaps visit the glowworm caves at Waitomo on the way. Rotorua with geysers spouting, mud pools bubbling and warm geothermal springs and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of color. Head onward to Napier and pick up the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail with its unforgettable wine and food experiences along the signposted 380km (240 mile) route. You’ll discover five of New Zealand’s most scenic regions, including three major wine-growing areas. From Hawke’s Bay in the North Island to Marlborough in the South Island.

Inclusions:

  • Economy air round trip from Los Angeles - Auckland, Blenheim - Los Angeles
  • Add-on airfares available from other cities
  • 9 days car rental
  • 11 nights boutique accommodation
    Auckland x2, Rotorua x2, Napier x2, Marlborough x2, Wellington x1, Blenheim x2
  • Inter-islander ferry Wellington - Picton
  • All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
  • All hotel, local and VAT (Goods & services taxes)

Itinerary

Customize this itinerary - Contact Us

Day 1 - Depart US
Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.

Day 2 - Cross International Date line

Day 3 - Arrive Auckland
Welcome to New Zealand! Spend your first day in Auckland - explore or relax. Don't think of Auckland as a city, even though it's New Zealand's largest. Think of it as half urban, half marine - a cosmopolitan experience wrapped up in a fascinating water world and surrounded by over 50 islands.

ACCOMMODATION - Sebel Suites, this 4-star hotel is centrally located alongside the Viaduct Harbour, just minutes from Auckland's central business and shopping district. The Sebel Suites Auckland offers an intimate setting and features panoramic views of the marina, Harbour Bridge and the city.

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image: Sebel

Day 4 - Auckland
Explore Auckland at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:

  • Time Unlimited - Auckland Highlight Luxury Half Day Tour - Morning or Afternoon (also available for private use)
    See the highlights of Auckland city with its 55 volcanoes and the marine village of Devonport on Auckland's North Shore. Be amazed by spectacular views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea, dramatic views of several volcanoes and the marine village of Devonport.
  • Bush and Beach - Coast and Rainforest Tour
    Visit Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, with panoramic views from the sweeping decks extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Next, your guides walk you through Auckland’s coastal rainforest to the West Coast Beach with soft black sand, enjoy a kiwi style picnic lunch before moving onto untouched original rainforest with mature 1000 year old Kauri trees, where 70 percent of the world’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world.
  • Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise
    Board your Explore Group vessel at Viaduct Harbour, Auckland to commence an Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise. Dine on the Waitemata Harbour, an experience not to be missed in Auckland. Enjoy great sailing and as the sun sets watch the night lights of the cityscape come alive. Sail where the wind takes while enjoying Auckland's city highlights; including sailing under the Harbour Bridge and other well-known landmarks along the harbours edge. The crew's local knowledge will give you the best harbour sailing experience Auckland has to offer. Cruise concludes at approximately 2.5 hours after commencement, back at Viaduct Harbour Auckland.
  • Waiheke Island - Wine Tour
    All day tour of three vineyards with pickup from and return to Auckland ferry or Waiheke Island accommodation . This tour includes commentated scenic tour of the Island with time to stop for photographs. One vineyard may be replaced with an olive oil visit and tasting
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image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 5 - Auckland - Waitomo - Rotorua
Collect rental vehicle and drive south

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Auckland to Hamilton
127 km (79 miles) Approximately 1.5 hour

As you cruise down the southern motorway, suburban scenery gradually gives way to the farmland of South Auckland, an area favoured by bloodstock breeders. The Waikato River will accompany you for much of your journey through the green countryside. The city of Hamilton is carved in two by the mighty Waikato River. Excellent restaurants and cafes can be found at the southern end of the city’s main street.

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Hamilton to Waitomo Caves
71 km (44 miles) Approximately 1 hour

The Waitomo Caves region is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms.

Waitomo Caves to Rotorua
136 km (85 miles) Approximately 1.5 hours

Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. You’ll know you’ve arrived in the city of Rotorua when you see (and smell!) the geothermal steam plumes of Whakarewarewa. Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so there’s evidence of volcanic activity everywhere you look. Explore the geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people

Explore Waitomo at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:

  • Glowworm Caves
    Inside the ancient limestone caves live tiny insects whose iridescent light has amazed visitors of the Glowworm Grotto for over 100 years. Guided walks lead visitors through the amazing Cathedral, a high ceiling cave with acoustics to rival the most modern arena, to a small boat. From here the boat is towed across the water to where hundreds of tiny lights flicker on the cave roof above.
  • Black Water Rafting
    The Black Labyrinth is the original classic adventure. Tube down the 'hidden' waterfall, through rocky chutes and vaulted limestone galleries and emerge in the Waitomo forest.
  • Lost World - Abseiling
    Abseil 100m into this unique and spectacular chasm - the descent takes around 30 minutes and is followed by a dry caving trip exploring huge chambers en route to the surface. See giant speleotherms, including flowstone and spagatites, the famous glowworms and all manner of weird and wonderful rock sculptures. There's a 30m ladder climb and walking along narrow ledges, at all times protected by specialist safety equipment and systems. Unbelievable
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image: Tourism New Zealand

ACCOMMODATION - Novotel Rotorua Situated on the picturesque shores of Lake Rotorua, this hotel offers tranquil surroundings with sensational views. The central location is easily accessible to cafés, restaurants and local attractions. Stunning natural scenery and geothermal wonders makes this the ultimate destination. Enjoy a world of culinary excitement at the Atlas Restaurant. Clarke's Bar features an al fresco courtyard. Matariki offers the popular and exciting Maori cultural nightly performances.

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image: Novotel

Day 6 - Rotorua
Explore Rotorua at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:

  • Discover Rotorua
    Experience Te Puia, a place of Maori culture and a thermal wonderland of impressive geysers and boiling mud pools. Explore Rainbow Springs Nature Park, which showcases native flora and fauna as well as the New Zealand Kiwi. Then see NZ's agricultural industry in action with a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials at the Agrodome.
  • Te Puia Steambox Lunch
    Visitors can choose what they want to have cooked for their lunch before heading out on a special guided tour. As they participate in an interactive session, learning how to weave a flower, and tour the carving and weaving schools, their food is placed in a Nga Wha (steam vent) Puapua, which is located in the geothermal area that is the backdrop to the famous Pohutu Geyser. Heading down into the geothermal valley to the mud pools and hot springs, the tour concludes when, after watching their lunch being lifted from the Nga Wha, guests sit and enjoy a steam box picnic lunch on the geyser terrace.
  • Rotorua Redwoods Mountain Biking - Half Day
    Right on the Rotorua's doorstep lies the best mountain biking area in New Zealand. There’s a little something for everyone in the Redwood Forest. The dirt here holds together better than anywhere in the world, and the area is packed with something for everyone from beginner to expert, and the forest is spectacular! Grade 1-5 riding - beginner to expert.
  • OGO Rotorua
    OGO Rotorua is an all-weather, all seasons, adventure with the longest downhill ball rolling tracks in the world! Speed up on the straights before riding up the sides of the 6 massive corners. Wet and Dry ride options - warm water in winter, cool in summer. Dry option available in Winter month. Hot tubs at top and bottom of hill.
  • Hobbiton
    Your guide will escort you through the ten acre site of where the Lord of the Rings movie set used to be. Your guide will explain all about what was needed to create the Hobbiton set and tell stories about what went on during filming. Check out the Hobbit holes from the film set. After viewing the Bag End, you can pet and feed the hand reared sheep and hand bottle feed lambs.
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image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 7 - Rotorua to Napier 

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Rotourua to Taupo
81 km (51 miles) Approximately 1 hour
 
The road to Taupo will keep you entertained with its unusual, volcanic geography. You’ll also drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest. Take a side road to a geothermal park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. Towards the end of your journey you’ll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. Other diversions include Huka Falls and a world-acclaimed golf course.

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Taupo to Napier
139 km (87 miles) Approximately 1.75 hours
 
The major entertainment on the road from Taupo to Napier is the fantastic scenery. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. The town of Eskdale heralds your arrival in Napier. In 1931 a devastating earthquake nearly levelled this city. It was rebuilt in the style of the times, and is now considered the Art Deco Capital of the world. The vineyards of Hawke’s Bay are all within easy reach of Napier. Another attraction is the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers.

ACCOMMODATION - The Crown Hotel Napier overlooks the waterfront in the historical village of Ahuriri, Napier. The heritage suites, located in the original 1932 Crown Hotel Building, have been lovingly restored to reflect the history and opulent style of the Art Deco era. Adjacent to the original building sits the modern and contemporary wing...replenish in the all day sun and stunning ocean views. Together these architectural elements combine to create a timeless and elegant hotel offering the ultimate combination of classic opulence and history to modern luxury and design.

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image: The Crown

Day 8 - Napier
Explore the Napier area at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:

  • Half Day Wine and Gourmet
    Savour some internationally acclaimed wine and relax where art meets science amongst a wealth of scenery on this fabulous odyssey. Take a behind the scenes look at a winery with a chance to learn from a local wine maker, learn about wine and food matching at one of New Zealand's top winery restaurants and indulge in gourmet platters with top local produce including meats, seafood, vegetables, cheese, olives, breads and dips.
  • Half Day Maori Culture and Heritage
    Join your guides to experience a spiritual welcome into the world of Maori. Spend time talking with Maori about their lives and find yourself drawn into their lives and into their world on a deep level. Experience a formal welcome (powhiri) and delve into Maori life, both past and contemporary. On the sands of a glorious Hawke's Bay wilderness beach resides an extraordinary Maori elder (quia) who lives an inspired life in the rhythms and age old customs of the Maori culture; an inspirational woman who carries the mana (respect), courage and relentlessness to keep the culture alive. Meet this remarkable woman on land that has been passed down from her ancestors since the beginning of time. Listen to her fascinating reality how things are and what is important to them, their connection to the land, the importance of whakapapa (lineage) and life amongst her people.
  • On Yer Bike Winery Tour
    This tour offers a fun one-day cycling experience, giving you the opportunity to enjoy tasting some of Hawkes Bay's finest wines, while at the same time taking in the superb scenery of the Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa Triangle wine growing regions. The terrain is flat and very easy cycling. Scenery includes vineyards, olive groves, orchards and farmland. Most of the cycling is off-road following the wineries bike trail with a detour through a working vineyard. The route covers around 20km and gives you the opportunity to visit up to eight wineries depending on the day you do the tour.
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image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 9 - Napier to Martinborough

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Napier to Hastings
20 km (13 miles) Approximately .75 hour
 
Hastings was devastated by a huge earthquake in 1931. As a result, the city has a great deal of remarkable Art Deco and Spanish Mission-style architecture. Fabulous parks and delicious ice cream are two other reasons to visit Hastings. In the apple and pear season, there’s no better place to be – Hastings is New Zealand’s leading pipfruit region.

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Hastings to Masterton
216 km (135 miles) Approximately 2.75 hours
 
On your way south you'll drive through Waipukurau and Waipawa—both have historic buildings to view. In Dannevirke, a town originally settled by Scandinavians, you can inspect locally made knitwear. Woodville is a place for antique browsing. Before you reach Masterton, you'll encounter the legendary town of Eketahuna (in kiwi slang Eketahuna is the archetypal hick town). The wildlife sanctuary at Mt Bruce is an essential stop. Every year in March, Masterton hosts the international Golden Shears competition. Sheep shearing in the Wairarapa is both a sport and an art form

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Masterton to Martinborough
45 km (28 miles) Approximately .75 hour

Enjoy the clean, green scenery as you drive north through the friendly townships of the Wairarapa. Martinborough has become the gourmet capital of the lower North Island. It is home to over 25 boutique vineyards, several fabulous restaurants and a number of upmarket bed and breakfast establishments. From the charming town square, you can walk to most of the local attractions.

ACCOMMODATION - At The Martinborough Hotel choose a room to suit your mood. Indulge in the elegant surroundings of one of our nine Verandah Rooms, at the top of the grand flight of stairs in the original 1882 building. Or take a wander through the pretty courtyard just beyond the lobby and enjoy the tranquillity of seven spacious Garden Rooms finished in a restful simple country style. Our Garden Suite is spacious, up a private flight of stairs and overlooks our garden on a private verandah. The Suite inter-connects with a Garden room, perfect for families or friends.

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image: Martinborough Hotel

Day 10 - Martinborough
A day at leisure to perhaps explore the wineries or the Marlborough Sounds area.

Day 11 - Martinborough to Wellington

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Martinborough to Wellington
79 km (49 miles) Approximately 1.25 hour

The drive to Wellington wind throughs the picturesque Hutt Valley before climbing over the Rimutaka Range and descending into the tranquility of the Wairarapa region. If you don’t want to drive, a scenic train trip runs from Wellington to Featherston. Wellington is compact, cultured and full of character. Nestled between the harbour and the hills, the downtown area is ideal for explorations on foot. Enjoy cafes, restaurants, museums and all kinds of shops. Dance, theatre and musical performances are a Wellington specialty. As New Zealand’s capital, this city is rich in political history.

ACCOMMODATION - The QT Museum hotel This hotel incorporates classically elegant rooms, spacious studios and suites, award winning restaurant and bars, beautifully appointed and versatile function spaces and a superb collection of contemporary New Zealand art displayed in lobby and foyer areas. Situated opposite Te Papa, Museum of New Zealand, and Wellington's waterfront and a short walk from the cafés/restaurants, theatres, galleries and shopping of the vibrant Courtenay Quarter

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image: QT Museum

This afternoon explore Wellington at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:

  • City Highlights "Inspiration" Half Day Tour
    This is an unforgettable journey around the city's dramatic highlights, during which clients will travel around the earthquake-scarred South Coast to see the site of the Wahine ferry disaster and the distant ranges of the South Island, overlooked by coastal houses perched on the steep, rocky hills. Enjoy views of the harbour from the top of Mount Victoria and ride the steep cable car up to an incredible, far-reaching panorama. Visit the magnificent Parliament buildings and the famous Beehive and see the gorgeous, timber-built Old St Paul's Cathedral before visiting the national museum of Te Papa to experience the extraordinary mix of Maori and European history, amid the nation's natural and cultural treasures.
  • WETA Workshop There and Back Again Half Day Tour
    Made famous by the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Weta Workshop is world renowned for creating incredible movie props and practical effects. Begin with a behind the scenes film showcasing the company's history before a workshop technician takes you on a tour filled with real films props and working artists. See and learn about the creative process from start to finish and relive the magic of countless movies. Tour concludes approximately 2.5 hours after commencement
  • Te Papa Museum - Maori Highlights Tour
    Take an in-depth journey to discover Te Papa's taonga (Maori cultural treasures) and hear their stories for insights into Maori cultures. From historic, artistic and contemporary perspectives, this tour will enrich your understanding of what makes New Zealand's Maori culture unique. Tour concludes approximately 1 hour after commencement.
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image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 12 - Wellington - Picton (Inter-islander ferry) - Blenheim

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Wellington to Picton - Interislander ferry
Approximately 3 hrs

The passage across Cook Strait and through the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most scenic ferry trips in the world. The fast ferry makes the trip in just over 2 hours, the cruise-style ferry takes 3 hours. Both types of vessel can transport vehicles. Highlights along the way include the Red Rocks seal colony, Tory Channel, Cook’s Lookout and the beautiful coves of the sounds.

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Picton to Blenheim 
99 km (62 miles) Approximately 1.5 hrs

The drive to Blenheim is both beautiful and interesting. Rai Valley has a delightful cottage museum, and at Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve you can enjoy a bush walk or a swim. Nearby Canvastown gives you the chance to explore old gold mining fields – thousands tried to get rich here in the 1860s. Havelock is the place for a seafood meal – it’s known as the Green Shell Mussel Capital of the World. When you reach Renwick, which is surrounded by vineyards, it will be clear that you’ve arrived in wine country.

ACCOMMODATION - Vitners Retreat Perfectly placed on Rapaura's golden mile of vineyards ... world-class wineries within walking distance. Soak up the ambience with superb cuisine, an extensive Marlborough wine list, and luxury contemporary accommodation

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image: Vitners Retreat

Day 13 - Blenheim
Blenheim at your leisure. Visit some of the best of the wineries and taste their award winning wines

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    our tour guide will show you through the fabulous Marlborough wine region stopping to enjoy two fine wine experiences including Marlborough's Iconic winery, Cloudy Bay. After two wonderful wine visits the tour then departs the wine region through to the Marlborough Sounds for a lunch on the waterfront (lunch is at own cost). Depart the marina on the Malrborough Tour Company launch for a unique Seafood Cruise through the Marlborough Sounds. Take in the natural beauty of the native bush and the tranquility of the Sounds. Learn from your experienced Skipper the history of the Malrborough Sounds and the history of the pioneering families who have settled in the Sounds over 6 generations. Visit a marine farm and learn why seafood grows so well in the Marlborough Sounds. Enjoy a seafood tasting matched to a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. On arrival back in Havelock re-board the coach for the transfer back to Blenheim
  • Deluxe Half Day Guided Biking Wine Tour
    This guided half day tour bikes to three of Marlborough's premium wineries. You will ride along country roads, river stop-banks and through vineyards. The tour guide provides commentary throughout the tour on the wines and wineries and also the history and geography of New Zealand's largest wine region. Tour concludes approximately 3.5 hours after commencement,
  • Half Day Wine Tour
    Commence a half day Marlborough Wine Tour. The 4-5 hour tour will give you a great insight to the Marlborough Wine area. Tasting wines along the way and wandering amongst the vines. Tour concludes approximately 4-5 hours after commencement at which time hotel drop offs will commence.
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image: Tourism New Zealand

Day 14 - Depart Blenheim for US (via Auckland)

 

Request a Quote

 

* Peak Season 1Dec18-28Feb19 pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability

Note: Daily departures, this package is an independent itinerary with flexible departures (not a group tour).

 

Additional departure gateways & pricing:
- Depart on Air New Zealand’s non-stop Houston – Auckland flight for a supplement of $250 per person
- Add on airfares available from most major airports - Add $200 from Dallas, Add $320 from Denver, Seattle, Add $400 from Chicago, Minneapolis, Add $450 from NYC, Boston, Miami, Washington

 

International Economy with Air New Zealand
State-of-the-art Economy seats have been designed to provide a really comfortable seat for everybody. The armrest disappears right into the back of the seat so you can be more comfortable during our longhaul trips.

As well as the delicious and fresh meals from the kitchen, you can order tasty snacks throughout the flight, at the touch of your screen. No waiting for hours between meals - eat when you want to. And, of course, there's always a superb selection of New Zealand wines from the onboard cellar.

The vast selection of activities on our inflight entertainment will keep even the most fidgety of flyers engaged for the whole flight. Enjoy over 1,700 hours of content - including latest movies, TV box sets, video games, and a dedicated kids section - all on a 10.6” personal touch screen in widescreen format. If you need more, there are always the USB and iPod connections to plug in to.

 

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Upgrade Options
Consider upgrading Skycouch, Premium Economy or Business Class.
Skycouch - from $549 one way (based on 2 persons sharing)
Premium Economy - from $950 per person round trip
Business Class (Lie-flat bed) from $4000 round trip

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Skycouch

Whether you’re a couple who’d like a bit of extra room, parents with a young child, or a parent with two restless kids, you’ll find our innovative Economy Skycouch the perfect solution.

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Premium Economy

Premium Economy is about creating ample space and privacy. The design of our revolutionary Spaceseat™ means that the person sitting in front of you can’t recline into your personal space.

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Business Class

The luxurious 22" wide leather armchair converts to a fully lie flat 6'7.5" bed - one of the longest in the sky. Even more indulgent with a thicker mattress, fluffy duvet and full size pillows.

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Note: All upgrades are subject to availability, upgrade cost may be higher

 

Conditions

Package from pricing is based on double occupancy (2 people sharing a room) from Los Angeles or San Francisco for travel by 31 March, 2019. Ask an Aspire consultant for pricing for other travel dates. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Certain blackout dates apply on the accommodation and tour value add offers - check with your Aspire consultant. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by cash/wire transfer/check, please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. There are no discounts for payment made by credit cards. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply.