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New Zealand Grand Tour

Visit New Zealand's North and South Islands on the ultimate holiday of a lifetime!

Imagine a small country blessed with more than its fair share of natural wonders, and you are imagining New Zealand. Subtropical beaches, volcanoes and spectacular thermal areas, fjords, ice-capped mountains, unique ora and fauna. Worth travelling half way around the world for? Most definitely!

Chapters Experience Holidays is one of the few British tour operators licenced by the Department of Conservation to legally operate walking holidays in New Zealand.

Our holiday starts in Auckland, a city cradled between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. We travel south from here to Rotorua, centre of both Maori culture and the most extraordinary thermal activity. Here there are geysers, bubbling mud pools and lakes which fizz all the colours of the rainbow. Our next stop is the Tongariro National Park situated in a spectacular region of active volcanoes. The Tongariro Crossing is amongst the greatest one-day walks anywhere in the world (this can be done as an optional extra).

From the capital, Wellington, we sail across the Marlborough Sound to Picton on South Island. After walking by Queen Charlotte Sound and visiting a vineyard we spend two nights at St Arnaud by the beautiful Nelson Lakes. Here the view from the top of Mount Robert is one of the  best in the country. We travel to Fox Glacier via the famous Pancake Rocks blow-holes through which the sea spouts like a geyser. At Fox we follow a riverside trail to the terminal moraine, walk along Gillespie’s Beach with the chance of sighting fur seals and dusky dolphins, and take in the incredible view across Lake Matheson to the Southern Alps.

The journey over Haast Pass brings us to Queenstown. The setting, on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the craggy ‘Remarkables’ as a back drop, is sensational. The Moke Lake Walk is often voted the best of the holiday, and an ascent of Ben Lomond is also possible, with panoramic views over mountain range after mountain range.

Te Anau is our base in the Southern Lake District, from where we cruise on Milford Sound. This fjord lives up to its reputation, with dramatic cliffs, hanging valleys and waterfalls cascading into the dark waters. “When it rains it pours” will become a saying you will become all too familiar with whilst here! We then head north to spend a day exploring the area around Mount Cook.

The view of New Zealand’s highest mountain set against Lake Pukaki or the Hooker Glacier is yet another highlight. Journey’s end is Christchurch; a city which has recovered with great fortitude from the earthquake of 2011. This really is a holiday of a lifetime. With our expert knowledge, we purposely, as far as possible avoid, the excessively touristy places, and spend as much time as we can in the great New Zealand countryside, with its magnificent lakes and rivers, providing you with that exhilarating feeling of really being in wide open spaces (because you are).

Tongariro Alpine Crossing Option*

Heralded as the best one-day trek available in New Zealand, it spans the length of Mount Tongariro covering 12 miles (19.2km) and takes on average 7-8 hours to complete. This can be booked independently through a local operator as an optional extra and will be organised for you to partake in during your stay in Turangi. Price includes local guide, lunch, trekking/wet weather gear hire and return transfers from Turangi. A medium to high level fitness required. If a part of our programme, this would be a more challenging level C activity.

*Operation of the walk is subject to two or more participants.

Activity Level
You enjoy the great outdoors and possess a moderate spirit of adventure. For you, nothing beats exploring the natural world, whether by foot, wheels or water. You enjoy filling your days with great scenery and a range of different experiences. You are moderately fit. Previous outdoor activity experience is preferable.


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  • Dates, Prices & Holiday Information Sheet (PDF)
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    Depart From
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    02 Nov 2017
    Level B
    Depart From
    London (Heathrow)
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  • Itinerary & Map
    02 Nov 2017 - 25 Nov 2017

    Day 1 - In flight
    Depart London Heathrow for Auckland via Singapore with Singapore Airlines.

    Day 3 - Auckland
    Lunchtime arrival in Auckland where we stay for two nights. We spend our time exploring and sightseeing in the ‘City of Sails’ and take the ferry across to Devonport and walk along the magnificent coastline overlooking the City skyline.

    Day 5 - Rotorua
    Leaving Auckland we travel via Waitomo, where we visit the famous caves lit by ‘glowworms’, to the Maori and thermal centre of Rotorua where we stay for two nights. Our time here will be spent walking in this region of lakes, hot springs and erupting geysers. Some of the country’s best known Maori settlements are here and there are some fine examples of local Maori carving. Our programme includes a visit to the Te Puia Thermal Reserve and the Nature Reserve at Rainbow Springs. In the afternoon, we walk along the Green and Blue Lakes in the Redwoods area.

    Day 7 - Tongariro NP
    We continue via Taupo to the Tongariro National Park area for two nights giving us time to walk in the wild country which forms the Park with its volcanic peaks of Ruapehu (2780m), Ngauruhoe (2277m), and Tongariro (1956m). Due to our concession restrictions with the National Park we are not allowed to offer the Tongariro crossing as part of our itinerary. However it is an option which you can book, at a supplement, add on to your holiday (please talk to our Sales & Reservations department for further details).

    Day 9 - Picton
    We leave the National Park and drive south to Wellington; from where we take the ferry across the Cook Strait through the Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton, on the shores of the Marlborough Sound, where we spend one night. The crossing and the coastal views from the ferry as we leave Wellington and cruise along the Queen Charlotte Sound are spectacular.

    Day 10 - Nelson Lakes
    After a morning’s walk along the Marlborough Sound, we continue to Blenheim to visit a local winery before moving on to the alpine village of St Arnaud, for two nights. We have a full days walking in the beautiful surrounding country of Nelson Lakes National Park near Mt Robert and Lake Rotoiti.

    Day 12 - Franz Josef
    We travel west and south following the Buller River and the coast to Franz Josef were we spend two nights. Here we explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glacier regions. En route we visit the strange phenomenon of ‘Pancake Rocks’ at Punakaiki and continue along the fabulous West Coast via Hokitika to the glacial area. Here we explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, Lake Matheson and the wild west coast at Gillespies beach.

    Day 14 - Queenstown
    We continue south via Haast turning inland over the Haast Pass and through wonderful country to Queenstown, where Ben Lomond and the Remarkables tower above Lake Wakatipu . We stay for three nights with some free time for self-exploration. Our programme includes some superb walking in the backcountry and an excursion to the old gold mining town of Arrowtown. An optional hike up Ben Lomond via the gondola is recommended for those wanting a classic mountain climb.

    Day 17 - Te Anau
    South of Queenstown, our next destination for two nights is Te Anau, in the heart of the Southern Lakes region from where we can walk alongside the Lake and explore the magnificent Fjordland NP. We spend a day visiting the stunning Milford Sound,we take a boat cruise out to the sea between the towering spires of rock surrounding the narrow inlet and sail beneath the waterfalls cascading from above.

    Day 19 - Omarama
    We leave Te Anau and travel north through the centre of the island northwards to Omarama, a village near Mount Cook, for two nights. On arrival, we will visit Clay Cliffs to see the ‘cathedral of spires’ created by the erosion of the sandstone formation.

    Day 20 - Omarama
    We spend most of the day walking in the area around Mount Cook (3741m), which dominates the surrounding 17 peaks, all over 2700m in this spectacular alpine region. We walk up the Hooker Valley towards the base of Mt. Cook to take some unforgettable photographs of the icebergs in the glacial lake and of the surrounding mountains.

    Day 21 - Christchurch
    We leave Mount Cook and travel across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch for two nights.

    Day 22 - Christchurch
    A free day in Christchurch.

    Day 23 - In flight
    Transfer to Christchurch Airport for the morning return flight to London Heathrow via Singapore.

  • Accommodation

    We stay in three and four-star hotels throughout. Specially selected for their fantastic location, quality and comfort.

  • What's Included

    Holiday Price Includes:

    • Flights and return airport transfers
    • Transport for all walks, activities and excursions.
    • B&B en suite accommodation.
    • Dinners on 10 evenings in hotels or local restaurants
    • Tour Leaders licenced by the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

  • Holiday Highlights

    Holiday Highlights:

    • Rotorua with its 20ft geysers, thermal springs, cauldrons of burning mud and the best known Maori settlement.
    • Milford Sound with its dramatic vertical cliffs, hanging valleys and waterfalls.
    • Mount Cook region – the highest and most beautiful point of New Zealand.
    • Specially selected three and four-star hotels throughout.
    • The experience of a lifetime!

  • Travel Information & Regional Departures
    • Arrival transfer by road (c30mins).
    • Flights Heathrow-Auckland/ Christchurch-Heathrow via Singapore both ways (c24hrs + stop), Singapore Airlines or Qantas via Dubai.
    • Manchester flights may be available. Please ask for details.        
    • UK add-on flights from £150 return, British Airways.
    • Upgrades: Premium Economy and Business Class available, please ask for prices and details.
    • Stopover package: If you would like to break your journey in Singapore please contact us for details on the stopover packages available when flying Singapore Airlines.

  • Holiday Photo Gallery
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  • Private Group Enquiry

    Planning a holiday for a group? For a quote or to simply enquire about the possibility of booking this holiday for your Walking Group please fill out the enquiry form below and our dedicated Private Group Department will get in touch with you shortly to discuss your options.

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Activity Level
You enjoy the great outdoors and possess a moderate spirit of adventure. For you, nothing beats exploring the natural world, whether by foot, wheels or water. You enjoy filling your days with great scenery and a range of different experiences. You are moderately fit. Previous outdoor activity experience is preferable.


Please select a departure date

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