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Great Journeys of New Zealand

Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour

Join us on an unforgettable guided train and coach journey through New Zealand. Travel off the beaten track in comfort and style as we bring you on this scenic adventure of a lifetime. Explore the bioluminescent glow worm caves of Waitomo, visit endangered species in a natural wildlife reserve, sip world-class wine among the vines in Marlborough, see the whales, dolphins and sea life – spend the day surrounded by wildlife in Kaikōura, discover the home of pounamu and ancient forests on the Wild West Coast, explore New Zealand’s city life in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown, cruise on the historic TSS Earnslaw and along the Milford Sounds all while being captivated by the storytelling of your local tour director along this great journey.

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Tour summary and feature

Quick Itinerary Details

Guided Coach & Train Tours

This suggested tour costs from NZD$13,999 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Auckland, finishes in Queenstown

17 days/16 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Pre and post tour options? YES

 Viewed 106 times in the last 7 days

This tour also includes
Whale Watch Kaikoura tour
Christchurch Tram
View of the glacier from the parking lot
TranzAlpine Train from Christchurch to Greymouth
Punakaiki Rocks
Travelling through the Southern Lakes
Haast, Mrs Jones Fruit Stall and Arrowtown Visit
Milford Sound Daytrip and Cruise
TSS Earnslaw cruise and dinner at Walter Peak high country farm, Queenstown
Hamilton Gardens Guided Tour
Northern Explorer Scenic Train
Raglan Sunset Cruise
Sanctuary Mountain
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Mt Ruapehu Sky Waka (Gondola)
Northern Explorer Scenic Train from Tongariro National Park to Wellington
Mt Ruapehu Turoa Excursion
Wellington City Tour
Marlborough gourmet wine tour
Interislander ferry crossing
Coastal Pacific Rail Journey
16 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 7 dinners
Tour full itinerary
Detailed Itinerary
Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 1
Explore Auckland

Kia ora! Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand’s City of Sails! Auckland is known for its multi-cultural hub of food, music, arts, and culture. Your great journey will officially begin the moment you check into your hotel room. After reading your welcome letter from your Journey Director, head out and explore all that Auckland has to offer. This is the perfect opportunity to visit the Sky Tower or shop along bustling Queen Street. You may even fancy a drink in one of the charming bars or eateries of Vulcan Lane.
After an exciting day on the town, join your fellow travellers as well as the Journey Director at this evening’s welcome reception.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 2
The Beginning of your Scenic Journey

Your journey awaits as you join the Northern Explorer scenic train. Marvel at rural New Zealand’s lush landscapes from the comfort of your scenic carriage. From the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbour to the green pastures of the Waikato – you won’t want to miss a moment.
Arriving in Hamilton, your coach awaits you to bring you to the famous Hamilton Gardens. Surrounded by beauty, you will learn about the history, context, and meaning of each garden.
In the early afternoon, enjoy some free time in the heart of Hamilton before departing for an evening visit to Raglan – a seaside surfer town. It’s here that you’ll enjoy a Sunset Dinner Cruise on the pristine harbour.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 3
Discover Endangered and Bioluminescent Species

This morning you will depart for your next exciting excursion – Maungatautari Sanctuary Mountain. Let your guide transport you into an ancient world of ecological wonders as you explore New Zealand’s very own pest-free environment, within native forest. On this excursion, you will walk through the home of some of New Zealand’s most endangered species. Discover North Island’s robins, tomtits, kākā, pōpokotea, bellbirds, hihi, tīeke, fantails, kereru and wētā. This pre-human paradise has one of the world’s longest pest-proof fences.
Your expedition continues after a lunch stop in New Zealand’s “Kiwiana Capital”, Otorohanga. Make sure you capture a photo of the giant Kiwi birds! Next, discover the famous Waitomo Glow worm Caves and be dazzled by the seemingly star-filled sky as you glide by boat through this impressive cave formation.
Tonight, explore Hamilton's riverside walks and shops on this free evening. Enjoy one of the many nearby restaurants as the sun sets over the Waikato River

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 4
Explore Tongariro National Park

Joining the Northern Explorer train once again, today you’ll soar over icy mountain streams as you travel to Tongariro National Park; the home of three volcanic mountains. Tongariro National Park has a diverse range of ecosystems and spectacular landscapes.  In 1993, it was recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and was the first property to be inscribed with the criteria describing the cultural values it holds in the Māori people.
Enjoy a mini excursion up to Tūroa ski field. Here you'll want to capture a panoramic photo of Middle Earth before descending into Ohakune.
Tonight, enjoy a special dinner with your fellow travellers.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 5
Another day to explore Tongariro National Park

Today is free for you to discover one of the region's exciting excursions. Choose from the many optional activities on offer and personalise your perfect holiday. Perhaps you will hop aboard a rail cart journey or join a horse trekking experience that takes you along expansive hills, mountains, rivers and into the native bush.
If you're after an active day, why not explore Ohakune’s historical cycle trail? Rent e-bikes and discover old viaducts, tunnels, old settlers’ camps and reclaimed native forests along the Old Coach Road.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 6
Tongariro National Park to Wellington on the Northern Explorer Train

Your day begins with an elevated experience up the northern face of Mt Ruapehu for panoramic views of the volcanic landscape. Drink in the views of Mt Ngāuruhoe, Mt Tongariro, and beyond across the central North Island. Joining the Northern Explorer train once again, you will wave goodbye to Ohakune as you settle into your uber-comfortable seat. Don’t get too comfortable though; dramatic rivers, gorges, and ravines are just around the bend! Stretch your legs and explore the open-air carriage to get the best view on the train. As you glide through rich green farmland and past dramatic coastline, enjoy the picturesque Porirua Harbour as you arrive into Wellington - New Zealand’s windy capital! You’ve arrived at Wellington Railway Station which is just a stone’s throw from downtown, the Beehive and Parliament Buildings. You won't want to waste a moment of time after checking into the hotel - your evening is free to explore this culinary capital from Queen’s Wharf to Cuba street and beyond.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 7
Explore Wellington

The perfect day does exist – and it includes exploring Wellington! Today is free for you to experience vibrant Wellington as you please. Start by joining our Wellington City introduction tour and then head off to explore Cuba street’s cafes, bookstores, and eccentric shops. Get cultured at the Te Papa Museum or Zealandia to uncover the rich stories of Aotearoa New Zealand. You won’t get bored with the plethora of activities on offer. From urban eco-sanctuary, cable cars, botanical gardens, and more, the list goes on!
Enjoy dinner tonight with your fellow travelers.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 8
Adventure to the South - Haere ra to Te Ika a Maui

This morning you will say poroporoaki ki te motu raki (good-bye to the North Island) as you sail to the South Island, crossing the Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry. As the shores of the North Island slowly disappear, enjoy a hearty seafaring breakfast in the Ocean View restaurant.
Around mid-day, you will be spoiled with harbour views entering the Queen Charlotte Sound. Admire the beauty of this coastal paradise as you arrive at the gateway of the South Island; Picton. Step off the Interislander Ferry and join your next world-class experience on a Marlborough Wine Tour!

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 9
Picton to Kaikoura on the Coastal Pacific Train

Today you will be travelling into Kaikōura. Relax as the train glides across remote beaches, between mountains and sea, on a timeless journey of breath-taking beauty. Keep an eye out for the fur seals lazing on the rocks! Once in Kaikōura, the evening will be yours to enjoy some iconic kai moana (seafood) at one of the quaint restaurants before enjoying your luxurious ocean-front hotel.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 10
Kaikoura to Christchurch on the Coastal Pacific Train

Today will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience of whale watching! Enjoy today’s thrill of an up-close encounter with the world's largest-toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale. If you would prefer to gain an aerial experience of the wildlife, why not request a plane or helicopter ride to capture the true grandeur of it all?
After this outstanding experience, we're sure you will be feeling peckish. Head to the beach to sample some iconic New Zealand food - you can't go wrong with the humble Kiwiana fish and chips. Work off the deep-fried delights by wandering through the wonderful array of local artisan stores and souvenir shops.
In the late afternoon, your journey will continue, once again, on the Coastal Pacific Train en route to Christchurch, or “The Garden City”. The spectacular scenery doesn’t cease to amaze as you journey south through the rolling hills and flat plains. Enjoy the relaxing journey with a glass of wine in hand from the scenic café. Enjoy a peaceful evening before hitting the town the following day.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 11
Explore Christchurch

Christchurch, the hub for South Island exploration is also a wonderful city that blends modern architecture and technology with the existing 19th-century Anglican influence. Often remembered for its earthquake in 2011, the city is still rebuilding itself into a multicultural haven. So, without further delay, jump on the historic tram to learn the history, tales and culture of Ōtautahi Christchurch.
Enjoy your free time as you explore the Arts Centre, Quake City Museum, Antarctic Centre, and botanical gardens. There is also a multitude of delicious cafes tucked into quaint side streets we're sure you will love. If you are in the mood for something different, set off for Akaroa, an ‘incroyable’ French coastal settlement just outside the city. 
Dinner awaits as you join your fellow travellers once again to tell them about the exciting places you have discovered.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 12
The TranzAlpine Scenic Train

The moment has come to experience the world-famous TranzAlpine journey through the Southern Alps to the West Coast!
On this fantastic escape, you will see epic vistas, soar on the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River, traverse the Southern Alps, and experience miles of native beech forest. The natural scenery isn’t the only marvel though. The TranzAlpine will also pass through the Otira Tunnel, a true engineering marvel of almost 100 years!
Once you arrive on the West Coast, you will travel even further off the beaten track by coach to Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. Here you will walk amongst limestone formations before finishing your day in the coastal town of Hokitika.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 13
Explore the West Coast

This morning you start your West Coast adventure by visiting one of the South Island’s most popular activities– The Treetop Aerial Walkway. This elevated adventure will get you acquainted with the locals – the ancient Rimu and Kamahi trees of course.
After your sky-high experience, continue south into Glacier Country. Franz Josef Glacier is quite special in that it survives in coastal rainforest temperatures. With a short walk to a viewpoint, you'll get a fantastic view of the vast valley, as well as a sneak peek of Franz Josef Glacier itself. If you would prefer to get up close, we recommend booking an optional helicopter flight. This will ensure you are getting the best possible view of this natural wonder.
After indulging in the local activities and retail therapy in Franz Josef’s souvenir shops, join your group for an impeccable highlight meal at Te Waonui Forest Retreat.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 14
Explore the Southern Lakes

Today you will be exploring the mountainous Haast Pass. With changing landscapes around every bend, this journey to Queenstown will be one of the most scenic drives you may ever take. Marvel at the beaches, crystal blue lakes and rivers, mountain peaks, lush vineyards, charming plains and stunning glaciers as your Tour Director guides you between local hidden gems.
Emerging on the other side of the pass, explore a local fruit hotspot before exploring the cobblestone streets of the historic goldmining settlement of Arrowtown. After an exciting plunge into the history of this gold rush village, you will arrive in the world-famous resort town of Queenstown!

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 15
Explore Milford Sound - The 8th Wonder of the World

Make sure you charge your camera before you set off on today’s adventure. Today you’re heading to Milford Sounds/ Piopiotahi to be engulfed in towering peaks and to waltz through plunging valleys.
After travelling through native rainforests, meadows, and knobs (yes knobs!), you will join your cruise in Milford Sounds. Jump aboard and meander down the sound where you will experience the rumble of Bowen and Stirling Falls as they plummet from glacial hanging valleys sharply into the sea. Marvel at the sheer pinnacle of Mitre Peak, rising from the deep waters of the fiord. Or, if you’d like to soar like the Piopio (ancient bird), why not elevate your day by flying into the Sounds by plane or helicopter?
After this adventure, you will be heading back to Queenstown for the evening. Sip cocktails and indulge in Queenstown’s exciting nightlife along the sparkling Lake Wakatipu.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 16
Explore Queenstown

Queenstown truly has something for everyone. Personalise your day to be as active or relaxed as you’d like. Whether it’s sipping wine in Gibbston Valley or bungy jumping with AJ Hackett, there is no shortage of activities to delight your senses.
Enjoy a ‘final hurrah’ this evening as we board the TSS Earnslaw Steamship Cruise, dinner, and show. Reflect on your great adventure with your fellow travellers as you cruise to your dining experience at Walter peak overlooking the beautiful Table Bay. Sit back and watch a true Kiwi experience as you learn about sheep shearing and dog herding in this beautiful setting. This evening will truly encapsulate your great journey as a truly New Zealand highlight.

Your accommodation: 4-4.5 Star Hotel

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

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Great Journeys of New Zealand - Signature New Zealand Up Close Tour - Day 17
Depart Queenstown

Your journey will end after enjoying a final breakfast with your fellow travellers. You will be transferred to Queenstown Airport for your departing flight.

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Apr 6, 2024
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