• a body of water with a mountain in the background

Great Northerner Luxury Escorted Tour

Discover New Zealand’s staggering coastline, cosmopolitan cities and fascinating history on the Great Northerner Luxury Escorted Tour. 

This tour explores New Zealand’s North Island. Beginning in Auckland, you will discover the City of Sails’ pristine beaches, lively city centre, and thriving art scene. 

New Zealand is known for its natural beauty and interesting culture, and one highlight of your tour is a catamaran cruise to the Bay of Islands. Steeped in history, the Bay of Islands’ is considered the birthplace of the nation. Delve into New Zealand’s fascinating origins here and visit its contemporary museum and Maori Meeting House. New Zealand is also famous for its New World wines, and a day trip to Waiheke Island’s vineyards, sampling its finest vintages, promises to be a wonderful experience if you have extra time before you start this tour - talk to a Travel Designer to help arrange this. 

No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to its glorious capital city - and you’ll find that the road trip to Wellington along the Thermal Explorer Highway and through the beautiful Tongariro National Park is an experience in itself. 

Our 9-day Great Northerner Luxury Escorted Tour takes in some of New Zealand’s most breath-taking natural wonders. From sailing through the Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett, to being marvelled at the geothermal mud pools and geysers, New Zealand’s landscape is a wonderland of delights. There’s so much to see and do in New Zealand that we can also tailor your tour to include experiences that best reflect your own personal interests. So whether you’re a Lord of the Rings film fanatic or fascinated about the Maori culture, our Great Northerner Luxury Escorted Tour promises to be a holiday like no other.     

 

Duration
9 days
Best time to go
December to February
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
a large green field with trees in the background

Trip highlights

  • Enjoy a sheep show and learn about New Zealand’s farming industry
  • Glide on a boat through the mystical grottos at Waitomo Caves, admiring the thousands of glowworms that light the way
  • Marvel at New Zealand’s bubbling mud pools and stunning geysers at the geothermic town of Rotorua
  • Explore Wellington, New Zealand’s vibrant capital city including a visit to Te Papa Tongarewa; New Zealand’s National Museum
Auckland Harbour
a group of people in front of a building

After landing at Auckland Airport, you will be met and driven to the Grand Millennium Auckland hotel. Located in the heart of cosmopolitan Auckland, this five-star hotel is the perfect base from which to explore the city.  

Auckland combines pristine beaches with a lively city centre, top-notch restaurants and a fantastic art scene. Auckland is known as the ‘City of Sails’ due to its two harbours that attract ferries, luxury yachts and fishermens’ boats from across the world to its waters. It’s a common sight to see the ocean dotted with the many boats that are anchored here. Whether you fancy lazing on one of its stunning beaches, visiting a nearby island or discovering it’s city centre, there’s lots to do and see in Auckland. 

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Grand Millennium Auckland
Harbour Bridge
an island in the middle of a body of water

Today, you will enjoy a road trip that begins with crossing Auckland’s iconic Harbour Bridge. Built in 1959, the bridge connected Auckland to the North Shore by road, replacing the ferry as the fastest routeway. On your journey to the north of the island, you can take in impressive ocean vistas as you drive along the beautiful Hibiscus Coast. You will make a stop at the award-winning Kauri Museum, where you can discover the rich pioneering history of New Zealand’s northern region.

After a three-hour journey from Auckland, you will arrive in the Bay of Islands. This sub-tropical region is known for its stunning natural beauty and interesting history.

Arriving in the Bay of Islands, your first visit will be to the Waitangi Grounds, which is considered one of New Zealand’s most important sites. It is often referred to as the ‘birthplace of our nation’, as it was the traditional meeting place for the Bay of Islands’ many tribes. It was also where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 - bringing together the British and the Maori people as one nation. From its contemporary museum and Maori Meeting House to the War Canoe, your visit to the Waitangi Grounds takes you on a journey of discovery delving into New Zealand’s fascinating past.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Bay of Islands Copthorne Hotel and Resort
a large waterfall over some water

Set sail on a catamaran cruise to Cape Brett, which is on the eastern coastline of the Bay of Islands. Cape Brett is a nine-mile long peninsula that is noted for its stunning natural beauty.

Your cruise will take you to Motukokako Island to witness the ‘Hole in the Rock’. Motukokako Island stands isolated in the sea withstanding the powers of the wind and the waves, and is considered a sacred place and a symbol of endurance in Maori tradition. It is also one of New Zealand’s most important islands in conservation circles. Without animals on the island, it remains in pristine condition with 99 different types of flora.

Look out for the different marine life that are often spotted in these waters - observing a seal, penguin, whale or dolphin in their natural habitat is always a real highlight to this cruise. After admiring Cape Brett’s rocky outcrop, you will have some free time in a secluded bay.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Bay of Islands Copthorne Hotel and Resort
Cape Reinga, Bay of Islands
Auckland

Today, you will have a choice of activities and experiences in and around Auckland.

You can learn about the city’s best-loved landmarks on a cruise on Waitemata Harbour. Visit Auckland Zoo and discover New Zealand’s native species of flora and fauna, or book a half-day tour and see Auckland’s breath-taking black sandy beaches and rainforest. Movie lovers will enjoy visiting the Weta Workshop and diving into the filmmaking world of this award-winning special effects company. If you’re a rugby fan then you might like to join the All Blacks Experience, which will takes you on a journey of discovery about New Zealand’s favourite sport and national team.

Your evening will be a treat for your tastebuds, as you tuck in to a Pacific-themed dinner, which is prepared using fresh regional produce. This is a great opportunity for you to chat with your fellow travellers and discover New Zealand’s local flavours.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Grand Millennium Auckland
waitomo_caves

Today’s excursion takes you to Waitomo Caves, one of New Zealand’s must-see attractions in the North Island. Waitomo is a village, which is known for its extensive underground network of caves. Besides the wonder of the interesting limestone formations and underground waterfalls, Waitomo Caves’ star attraction is its glowworm caves. You’ll experience this natural wonder on a boat ride through this mystical grotton, where thousands of tiny luminescent creatures light the cave. It’s a truly unforgettable experience.

Afterwards, your afternoon takes you to Rotorua, a town that is known for its Maori culture. Set on Rotorua Lake, Rotorua is renowned for its geothermal activity, geysers and bubbling mud pools.

After discovering Rotorua’s fascinating natural wonders, immerse yourself in traditional Maori culture this evening and tuck into a Hāngī (a Maori method of cooking) feast while watching a traditional dance performance.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Millennium Rotorua
Rotorua
a mountain with smoke coming out of it

This morning there is a choice of fun activities for you to enjoy. Just ten minutes from Rotorua city centre lies 350 acres of lush farmland. Visiting the farm, you’ll have the chance to watch a sheep show at the Agrodome. Then, it’s time to head to Te Puia, where you will marvel at the geothermal valley’s natural bubbling mud pools and stunning geysers. Alternatively, you can visit one of New Zealand’s most extensive geothermal systems at Wai-O-Tapu.

Lord of the Rings fans will be delighted to do the Hobbiton Movie Set tour and discover how this incredible trilogy was filmed. Each of these tours offer wonderful experiences, and you will get to choose the one that is best suited to your particular tastes and interests.

After a wonderful morning enjoying one of these amazing experiences, the rest of your afternoon is free to enjoy at your own leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Millennium Rotorua
Tongariro National Park
a group of people on a rocky beach

Today, you will enjoy a road trip to further explore the natural wonders of the North Island. Driving along the Thermal Explorer Highway, you’ll get to stop en route to take in some of New Zealand’s breath-taking sights, including the Wairakei Stream Valley, Huka Falls, and Lake Taupo. In the afternoon you will journey to Wellington, driving through the beautiful Tongariro National Park. 

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • InterContinental Wellington
Wellington
a large body of water with a city in the background

You will have plenty of time to discover New Zealand’s capital city. This morning, there’s the opportunity to take a tour that will take you to some of Wellington’s best-loved landmarks and sights, including New Zealand’s national museum - Te Papa Tongarewa. The rest of your visit in Wellington is free to explore and enjoy at your own leisure. You might like to explore the Central Business District in Wellington, which is a wonderful mix of Victorian architecture, theatres, boutiques and galleries. 

No visit to Wellington is complete without dining at one of its waterfront restaurants. Tuck into mouth-watering dishes in this divine setting, an experience that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most discerning foodies. Plus, what better way to end your tour of New Zealand than with a delicious, leisurely meal in its capital city? 

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • InterContinental Wellington

Today, your holiday in New Zealand comes to an end. You will be picked up from your hotel in Wellington and driven to the airport where you will catch your onward flight.

 

Included

  • Cost of accommodation for a total of 8 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Board basis is Half Board: 8 breakfasts and 4 dinners
  • Expert English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary, and an APT Tour Director
  • APT’s Enriching Signature Experiences
  • APT’s Freedom of Choice concept, where you have the flexibility to tailor your sightseeing and dinner options in select locations, at no additional cost
  • Overseas transfers and luggage porterage