Cultural Quest – Meet the People

19 days,

18 nights |

from $8799 per person*


Experience a truly authentic Kiwi adventure through New Zealand’s stunning landscapes, immersing yourself in the warmth of local hospitality and culture at every turn.

Your journey commences onboard your Air New Zealand flight from Los Angeles to Auckland. Upon arrival, experience the genuine warmth of Kiwi hospitality as you’re greeted with a private sedan transfer to your accommodation. Spend three nights at Skycity Hotel Auckland in a Premium Room, where you’ll wake up to hearty breakfasts each morning.

Dive into the heart of Kiwi culture with a half-day Waiheke Scenic Wine tour, where you will have the opportunity to savor the finest wines and connect with local winemakers, hearing their stories and insights. Delve deeper into Maori traditions with a small-group tour for the best sights of Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) and its fascinating Maori Culture.

Hit the open road with a nine-day intermediate car hire, allowing you the freedom to interact with locals and discover hidden gems off the beaten path. In Coromandel, your Ocean-View king suite at Brenton Lodge offers more than just breathtaking views; it’s a chance to connect with the owners, who will share their passion for the region and its history. Join a guided nature and coast tour, led by locals who know the land intimately and are eager to share their knowledge.

Overnight at Matamata Lodge before stepping into the pages of Middle-earth. Your Hobbiton tour and lunch combo offers a chance to chat with guides who call this magical place home.

Continue your journey to Rotorua, where your lodge room at Koura Lodge provides a tranquil retreat amidst nature. Your visit to Whakarewarewa Village offers an authentic glimpse into Maori life, with locals proudly sharing their customs and traditions. Take to the skies on a floatplane adventure with Volcanic Air, guided by pilots who call this volcanic region home.

Discover Napier’s art deco charm during your stay at Mangapapa Hotel and experience the city on a guided walk led by passionate locals who are dedicated to preserving Napier’s architectural treasures.

In Wellington, your Executive King Studio at Museum Apartment Hotel serves as a cozy base from which to explore. Experience Zealandia by Night, guided by conservationists who are committed to protecting the country’s unique biodiversity. Savor local tastes on a full-day guided tour of the city’s hot spots.

Board the Interislander ferry for a scenic journey to Picton, where you’ll mingle with locals in the Plus Lounge, sharing stories and laughter. Resume your road trip, stopping in Blenheim and Kaikoura for memorable encounters with local marine life on a whale-watching cruise.

Overnight in Christchurch before embarking on the iconic TranzAlpine rail journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

Collect your rental vehicle in Greymouth, venturing to Franz Josef for a stay at Te Waonui Forest Retreat. Enjoy a grand traverse flight over the Glaciers for exhilarating views of the region from the air.

Conclude your journey in Queenstown, with a quaint stay at Hidden Lodge Queenstown overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Experience the majesty of Milford Sound, guided by locals who have an intimate understanding of this pristine wilderness.

  • Round-trip airfare on Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to Auckland, returning from Queenstown
  • One-way private arrival transfer Auckland Airport/Hotel
  • 3-nights Auckland Skycity Hotel Auckland, Premium Room including breakfast
    • Half-day Waiheke Scenic Wine tour including lunch and return ferry transfers
    • Auckland Maori Luxury Tour including lunch
  • 9 Days Intermediate Car Hire (Group D) including unlimited mileage
  • 2-nights Coromandel, Brenton Lodge, Ocean View King Suite including continental breakfast provisions
    • Nature and Coast Guided Tour including lunch
  • 1-night Matamata, Matamata Lodge, The Studio including continental breakfast
    • Hobbiton Tour and Lunch Combo
  • 2-nights Rotorua, Koura Lodge, Lodge Room including breakfast
    • Whakarewarewa Village Tour
  • Floatplane Crater Lakes Experience
  • 1-night Napier, Mangapapa Hotel, Deluxe Room including breakfast
    • Art Deco Guided Walk
  • 2-nights Wellington, Museum Apartment Hotel, Executive King Studio including breakfast
    • Te Papa Highlights at Te Papa Museum
    • Zealandia by Night
    • Taste Bud for Foodies Tour
  • Interislander Wellington to Picton, Plus Lounge
  • 4 Days Intermediate Car Hire (Group D) including unlimited mileage
  • 1-night Blenheim, Scenic Hotel Marlborough, Superior Room including breakfast
  • 1-night Kaikoura, Sudima Kaikoura, Superior King Room including breakfast
    • Whale Watch Kaikoura
  • 1-night Christchurch, The Classic Villa, Deluxe Room including continental breakfast
  • TranzAlpine rail from Christchurch to Greymouth, Scenic Plus
  • 5 Days Intermediate Car Hire (Group D) including unlimited mileage
  • 2-nights Franz Josef, Te Waonui Forest Retreat, Deluxe Room includes breakfast & dinner
    • Grand Traverse Flight
  • 3-nights Queenstown, Hidden Lodge Queenstown, Wha Suite, including breakfast
    • Milford Sound Fly/Nature Cruise/Fly
    • Glenorchy Kiwi Special Tour
  • US/foreign taxes and fees and September 11 Security Fee

All trips include 24-hour emergency travel assistance.

Book by:

May 31, 2024

Valid for travel between:

May 1 – June 28, 2024

Additional dates, gateway cities and airlines may be available.

Need some help? Contact us here.

This package is 100% customizable and no set itinerary is available.

Day 1: Depart USA

This evening make your way to the Los Angeles Airport for your overnight flight aboard Air New Zealand to Auckland Enjoy a dining experience full of super fresh ingredients and flavors and an extensive range of premium New Zealand wines to complement each meal. Relax in the ergonomically designed seats that create generous personal space to ensure a comfortable journey. Take control of the on-demand entertainment and enjoy a wide range of audio and video and a collection of the very best in music.

Day 2: International Date Line

During your flight, you will cross the International Date Line.

Day 3: Auckland

On arrival in Auckland, you will be met and transferred to your accommodation for a 3-night stay.

Day 4: Auckland (B,L)

Today, discover the incredible hidden paradise of Waiheke Island with this wine tour. Board the ferry from Auckland City to arrive at the local Matiatia wharf to launch your adventure. Explore hidden beaches, and the town center’s art, before heading to local vineyards. Taste the wine of multiple vineyards, including Mudbrick, and sample olive oils on the Rangihoua Estate. After indulging in a delicious lunch, board the convenient return ferry.

Day 5: Auckland (B,L)

See the very best sights of Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) and its fascinating Māori culture on a full day tour exploring some important historic sites and learn more about the fascinating Māori culture and history along the way. View several ancient volcanoes. Marvel at the architecture of the Auckland Museum, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful buildings as you visit the Auckland Domain. Explore the boutique suburb of Parnell, restored in the old colonial style with many beautiful mansions and along Tamaki Drive, one of the world’s most beautiful city drives. See several stunning beaches along Auckland’s shoreline including Mission Bay, arguably Auckland’s most well-known beach with lovely golden sand and safe swimming.

Day 6: Coromandel (B)

Collect your rental car from the downtown location and venture beyond the city to witness the landscape transform into lush, rolling farmland. The fertile Hauraki Plains stand out as a premier dairy-producing region in New Zealand. Along the Thames Estuary, a sanctuary for diverse wildlife, particularly shorebirds, awaits your exploration. A short, well-marked detour to Miranda reveals the captivating sight of vast flocks of godwits and oystercatchers, among other species. Upon reaching the historic gold town of Thames, the journey presents two routes to the eastern coast of Coromandel. Taking Highway 25A offers a direct passage over the Coromandel Ranges, reaching the coast in around 45 minutes. Alternatively, the more scenic path leads northward to Coromandel Township along the stunning Pohutukawa Coast, a segment of the Pacific Coast Highway. Renowned as one of the region’s most breathtaking drives, this route is a highlight not to be missed.

Day 7: Coromandel (B,L)

Today, join a guided tour with a naturalist guide who knows the wilderness of New Zealand inside and out. A delightful sample of the Coromandel Peninsula’s natural heritage and scenic beauty. Enjoy the flora & fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal-clear streams. Visit the old historic gold caves sparkling with glow-worms and hear the fascinating history of the area. Visit stunning coastal scenery with white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs decorated with ancient Pohutukawa trees, old Māori pa sites and offshore islands. A visit to Hot Water Beach is included [tide permitting]. Lunch will be a delightful picnic or a visit to a favorite café.

Day 8: Matamata (B)

Enjoy a leisurely morning in the Coromandel before embarking on a breathtaking self-driving journey from Coromandel to Matamata. Every bend in the road reveals captivating views of New Zealand’s diverse landscapes. Traverse rolling hills, verdant farmlands, and charming rural towns along the scenic route connecting these two remarkable destinations. Soak in the excitement of exploring this picturesque landscape at your own pace.

Day 9: Rotorua (B,L)

Make your way to The Shire’s Rest™ to commence a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Your guide will lead you through one of two Hobbit Holes offering time to explore the detailed interiors, with each home designed to create an identical experience. Continue along the pathways past The Millhouse, across the double-arch stone bridge and into the world-famous Green Dragon™ Inn, where you will be presented with a complimentary, exclusive beverage from our Hobbit™ Southfarthing™ range before following your guide up to the Party Marquee. The Party Marquee is adjacent to The Green Dragon™ Inn with an exquisite view across the water. The painted canvas exterior, vibrant bunting and colorful lanterns means visitors are immersed in the festive magic of the movies. Your meal is served buffet style from a specially themed table, bursting with hobbit fare, with shared table seating to dine family style with your group to conclude your Middle-earth adventure. Continue to Rotorua for a two-night stay.

Day 10: Rotorua (B)

This morning make your way to the city Lakefront pier, taxi out onto Lake Rotorua before experiencing the thrill of a floatplane take off. Climb above Mokoia Island and look back over the city to appreciate the volcanic caldera in which Rotorua sits. Flying over the eastern ridgeline reveals the lakes of Okataina, Tarawera, Okareka, Rotokakahi (Green Lake) and Tikitapu (Blue Lake). These stunning crater lakes are surrounded by native forests and pastoral lands, hidden from the city by our volcanic terrain. Only an aerial perspective reveals the true beauty of this region! Returning to the Lakefront our descent takes us across Sulphur Point and Rotorua City before landing back at the Rotorua lakefront. Enjoy some time in the town center before driving to Whakarewarewa The Living Maori Village. Meet your guide who will take you through all the geothermal highlights within the village including how the villages utilize the geothermal in their everyday lives, their history back to the starting of tourism in Rotorua, and traditions that have been handed down through generations that they still practice today. The guided tour is approximately 1.5 hours and includes a complimentary piece of corn on the cob cooked in our hot pool.

Day 11: Napier (B)

Your journey continues as you drive from Rotorua to Napier, where the road winds through the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. Along the way, you’ll catch glimpses of geothermal wonders, dense forests, and sprawling vineyards. The drive reveals the contrasting beauty of rugged terrain and peaceful coastal views before arriving in the charming Art Deco city of Napier. This afternoon, take a walk back in time with a guided walking tour of Napier’s fascinating Art Deco Quarter. Your local guide will tell you stories of the earthquake that destroyed the city, the people they were affected, and the remarkable recovery and rebuild that was completed within two years. A truly memorable experience of the most complete Art Deco city in the world. The walk is followed by an optional short film screening.

Day 12: Wellington (B)

Travel south and marvel at the majestic Te Mata Peak, offering panoramic views of Hawke’s Bay, before winding through the scenic vineyards of Martinborough. Pause to explore the historic town of Greytown with its charming Victorian architecture, then continue along the Kapiti Coast, where rugged cliffs meet pristine beaches, before arriving in the vibrant atmosphere of New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. This evening, make your way to Zealandia Eco Sanctuary for a 2.5 hours experience of the sanctuary and all the magical sights and sounds that only New Zealand can offer. Explore the valley by torchlight as your guide leads you in search of the endemic species found in Zealandia. Experience many of the rare and endangered species and see those who only come out at night. You may even see some of the 130 little spotted kiwi who call Zealandia home. Gain insights into New Zealand’s natural history and the significance within Māori culture. The tour will end with a replenishing cup of hot kawakawa tea (bushman’s tea) in the Visitor Centre.

Day 13: Wellington (B,L)

This morning, experience Wellington though food. Head to the food mecca of Wellington, Egmont St and the Hannahs Laneway. Here, check out the hole in the wall shop selling local peanut butter. Stop in at Dark Horse Coffee, specialty coffee roasters where you learn about its history and the timeline of the coffee from shrub to your cup. View a coffee roast then get to savor the product in a tasting session. Next stop is La Marche Francais, who specialize in French cheese but also have local cheeses on display. Here, taste three contrasting cheeses. Lunch is next at La Bella Italia in Petone, own little slice of Parma. Here, taste a range of cured meats served with pizza bread and a glass of Italian wine. This is followed by a visit to The Chocolate Story. Meet the resident chocolatier for a tasting and chocolate making lesson. In the afternoon, head north to Brewtown in Upper Hutt, home to numerous breweries and a gin and whisky distillery. Capital Personalized tours can also tailor the experience to the tastes of our customers. Sample award-winning craft beers, gin or whisky and pick up some tips from the experts.

Day 14: Blenheim (B)

This morning make your way to the ferry terminal to drop off your car before boarding the ferry to take you across the Marlborough Sounds to Picton. On arrival, collect your rental vehicle and make your way to Blenheim, located in the heart of Marlborough wine country. The remainder of your day is free to explore the region and pop into one of the many local cellar doors for tastings.

Day 15: Kaikoura (B)

Trace the rugged coastline of the South Island. Along the way, be sure to stop at the renowned Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre to delve into the rich history of aviation (own expenses), and don’t miss the opportunity to witness the playful fur seals basking in the sun at Ohau Point Seal Colony before reaching the picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura. This afternoon, discover the magic of the region’s marine life on a Whale Watch cruise. Prepare for exciting up-close encounters with Giant Sperm Whales. Clients may also see migratory humpback whales (June-July), Hector’s and Dusky Dolphins, Orcas (December-March) and NZ Fur Seals, as well as plenty of bird species including Royal Albatross, Petrels and Shearwaters.

Day 16: Christchurch (B)

Continue south and take some time to enjoy the stunning coastal views from the Kaikoura Peninsula before continuing your journey through the charming town of Waipara, renowned for its vineyards and wine tasting experiences, before crossing the Canterbury Plains to the vibrant city of Christchurch.

Day 17: Franz Josef (B,D)

Return your rental vehicle to the Christchurch depot and make your way to the rail station to board the TranzAlpine for a scenic rail journey across the Southern Alps. On arrival in Greymouth, collect your rental vehicle and travel south to Franz Josef for a 2-night stay.

Day 18: Franz Josef (B,D)

This morning, take the “flight of a lifetime”, exploring the incredible world heritage Aoraki Mount Cook and Westland National Parks. See New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine scenery, from snowy mountain ranges and turquoise lakes to epic glaciers and amazing ice fields flowing through West Coast rainforests, to the wild Tasman Sea. The remainder of your day is free to relax or explore the scenic west coast at your leisure.

Day 19: Queenstown (B)

Drive down the coast before heading over the Pass to Queenstown allowing some time to stop along the way to take in the scenic sights. On arrival, you will head out of the main city for a wonderful 3-night stay in Hidden Lodge.

Day 20: Queenstown (B)

Take to the skies with a scenic 35-minute scenic flight to Milford Sound. View famous Skippers Canyon, the Paradise region (recently made popular as film locations for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit Trilogies), and the Donne glacier among many other awe-inspiring features. On arrival in Milford Sound you will be escorted to the boat docks where you will board the “Spirit of Milford” to enjoy your Milford Sound Nature Cruise. The catamaran explores nooks and crannies along the edge of the fiord, nudging into sheer rock faces to examine flora and fauna in detail. Following the cruise, return to Queenstown by air taking in the many sights of the pristine alpine lakes and waterfalls.

Day 21: Queenstown (B)

Enjoy a free morning in Queenstown before joining the Glenorchy Kiwi Special tour that promises fun, entertainment and ultimate sightseeing. Discover amazing story telling of history and culture as you travel back in time in a showcase of the incredible history of the Southern Lakes from Māori Mythology to the early pioneers to the region. On arrival in Glenorchy you will have plenty of time for photos and time to relax in this beautiful top of the lake location. Enough time approximately 1.5 hours to explore Glenorchy’s short walks, cafes, and local pubs.

Day 22: Depart Queenstown (B)

Spend the morning relaxing or exploring the region before heading to Queenstown Airport to your return your rental vehicle and boarding your return flight to the US via Auckland.

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Based on Departures Price per person from*

Based on Double Occupancy

May 1 – June 28, 2024 8799
June 29 – July 24, 2024 9299
July 25 – September 25, 2024 9149
September 26 – October 16, 2024 9839
October 17 – December 4, 2024 9479
December 5 – December 12, 2024 9699
December 13 – December 23, 2024 10569
December 24 – January 3, 2025 9999
January 4 – January 13, 2025 10569
January 14 – January 29, 2025 10099
January 30 – March 10, 2025 9699

Additional upgrades and add-ons may be available.

Need some help? Contact us here.

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*Terms & Conditions: Pricing is per person based on double occupancy. All prices are in US dollars and correct at time of posting for travel during specified travel dates. Single supplements, black-out dates and seasonal supplements may apply. Airfare is not included unless indicated. Prices may differ when you book your travel and are not guaranteed until full payment is received. Airline and hotels frequently change their prices as a result of fare increases and/or fuel surcharges. Prices may increase before full payment for those and other reasons. Package is not combinable with any other offer or discounted vacation package. After full payment, prices are guaranteed except only due to an increase in government-imposed taxes or fees. By paying your deposit, you affirmatively agree to the possibility of such increases. Package is strictly subject to availability, not retroactive and not combinable with any other special or vacation package offer. Minimum night stays or required room types may apply. All prices, itineraries and routings are subject to change without notice. Please call for our current prices. CST#2001136-20

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