New Zealand lies astride the Pacific and Australian plates, which explains their existence and current configuration. It represents an outstanding "living laboratory" of active geological processes, amid a breathtaking landscape and unique flora and fauna that derive directly from its Gondwana origin. Modern New Zealand has a full range of high quality amenities, and New Zealanders are warm and friendly and enjoy an enviable lifestyle.
- Day 1: Depart US, overnight Flight
- Day 2: en route
- Day 3: Arrive at Auckland International Airport from the US.
- After clearing customs and immigration, a morning tour of the city, taking in the view from one of the many the volcanoes which dot the narrow isthmus between Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. Check in to hotel. Visit to Auckland Museum in the afternoon.
- Day 4: Leave for Waitomo Caves, travelling through rich farmland.
- The limestone caves are world-famous for their stunning display of glowworms. Learn about the geology and the special cave fauna of the area at the Caves Museum. Travel to Rotorua, where your hotel features a geothermally-heated swimming pool. A stunning performance spectacle of Maori culture this evening.
- Day 5: A full day exploring the Rotorua region -
- We begin by walking through the Waimangu Valley geothermal reserve, then down the volcanic valley to Lake Rotomahana. Board a cruise vessel to the site of Pink and White Terraces, sadly destroyed by the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera eruption. Walk over Te Ariki isthmus between Lakes Rotomahana and Tarawera, then cruise on Lake Tarawera. Visit Te Wairoa, a Maori village buried in the eruption, then return to Rotorua via the remarkable Blue and Green Lakes.
- Alternatives could be : Visit to Te Puia Thermal Reserve and the Maori Arts and Craft Institute morning, then to Waiotapu in afternoon, Buried Village in afternoon. Hells Gate is another possibility as is the option to take a 4WD to Mt Tarawera (half day tour).
- Day 6: Drive to Wairakei, the site of a geothermal power station.
- Continue to Taupo via the dramatic Huka Falls. Skirt Lake Taupo, the caldera of one of the largest eruptions ever, en route to the Tongariro Power Scheme display and overview. Cross the so-called Desert Road past the peaks of Mts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, in double-World Hertiage listed Tongariro National Park. See the memorial at Tangiwai to victims of a 1953 lahar, before continuing round the mountains, and returning to Rotorua.
- Day 7: Fly from Rotorua to Christchurch.
- An orientation tour of this charming former English colony, then some free time to visit the Arts Centre or Canterbury Museum and its adjacent botanic gardens.
- Day 8: Travel through North Canterbury to Kaikoura.
- Rapid uplift of this area is indicated by the raised beaches on the Kaikoura Peninsula. The major Hope Fault fronts the Kaikoura Ranges. Visit to seal colony, bird watching on coast. Optional trips:Whale watch, Dolphin Swim. Stay at Hotel.
- Day 9: Kaikoura to Westport.
- Along the Inland Kaikoura road - cross Hope Fault several times along route. Over Lewis Pass (Hanmer Basin formed on bend in Hope fault) with high glacial outwash terraces along Waiau River. Stop at Alpine Fault wall - stand with a foot on each tectonic plate. Across Rahu Saddle to Reefton, an old gold mining region, firstly alluvial, then reef. Down Buller Gorge, to Westport.
- Day 10: Westport.
- Coal and goldmining centre. Denniston plateau for coal mining - visit historic site and see tramway down incline. Alluvial mining of gold on Westport pakihi. Several former beach leads at base of uplifted cliffs. Tauranga Bay Seal Colony, Cape Foulwind, Mitchells Gully Gold Mine.
- Day 11: Westport to Franz/Fox.
- Down coast road to Punakaiki, walk out to Pancake Rocks (flatlying Tertiary limestones and blowhole). Past Barrytown and Nine Mile to Greymouth. Greymouth coalfield contains both cretaceous and Tertiary coal seams. South to Hokitika and Ross (gold and greenstone centre) and on to glaciers. Travel along Alpine Fault, close to base of Mountains, plains composed of glacial outwash and moraine loops. Visit glacier.
- Day 12: Franz/Fox to Wanaka.
- Possible visit other glacier in morning. Travel to Lake Moeraki and walk track to beach through bush to view vertical Tertiary rocks over gneissic basement. Cross Alpine Fault just east of Haast. On, over the Main Divide to Wanaka set in typical Central Otago schist county. Visit vineyard Wanaka area.
- Day 13: Wanaka to Arrowtown and Queenstown (Crown Range route).
- Along the Cardrona Valley, site of old gold mining claims, and over the Crown Range down into the Arrow basin. Spectacular Glacial Topography and views of Lake Wakatipu Basin as road descends into the Arrow Basin. Visit to Arrowtown Museum. Evening cruise on the Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station
- If cannot use Crown Range, then through Luggate and Cromwell (road alongside Lake Dunstan formed by Clyde Dam) to Queenstown. Visit too Arrowtown Museum.
- Day 14: Queenstown -
- A free morning before departing after lunch to Te Anau via Frankton.
- Day 15: Depart Te Anau for Milford Sound
- … and the opportunity to explore the remote and beautiful world heritage listed Fiordland National Park. Depart on the Milford Monarch for a cruise on the Sound to the open Tasman Sea before returning to Te Anau.
- Day 16: Te Anau to Dunedin.
- This morning depart Te Anau and travel to Dunedin. After lunch travelto the rugged Otago Peninsula and visit the Royal Albatross colony and the Yellow-eyed Penguin colony.
- Day 15: Dunedin to Christchurch
- … via Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru Historic precinct.
- Day 16: Free day
- Christchurch until flight to USA.
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