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New Zealand Tour Holidays

It may be on the other side of the world, but the South Pacific nation of New Zealand is certainly worth the journey. Known to the native Maori as Aotearoa – the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ – this is a diverse and often surprising country, with so much waiting to be discovered. The two main islands which make up the country are very different, offering a wide variety of landscapes, from golden sandy beaches and tropical rainforests to snow-tipped volcanic peaks, alpine meadows and glaciers, while the phrase ‘four seasons in one day’ is often invoked to describe the variable climate!

Experience the almost otherworldly geothermal landscape of Rotorua, with its steaming geysers and natural hot springs, raise a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at one of Wellington’s smart harbour-front restaurants, take a cruise along majestic Milford Sound and marvel at the wild natural beauty that was brought to wider world attention by the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

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New Zealand is a spectacular country, renowned for its varied and dramatic landscapes, brought to world attention by the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Nowhere else on the planet can you see glaciers, snow-topped mountains, volcanoes, lush rainforests, Alpine meadows and fjords in such a relatively compact area, and then of course there is the unique wildlife: flightless birds like the kiwi, the national emblem, and the kakapo, the largest parrot in the world, and endemic species of dolphins and sea lions found only in the waters surrounding New Zealand.

New Zealand’s urban centres are also a joy to explore. Known as the ‘City of Sails,’ Auckland is the country’s largest city, enjoying a magnificent seafront setting towards the tip of North Island. Watching over the harbour is the 328m-high Sky Tower, the focus of New Year celebrations, while Auckland’s museums and galleries, parks and gardens are all worth pausing over. Following a devastating 1931 earthquake, the east coast city of Napier was quickly rebuilt in Art Deco style, and is today famed for its colourful collection of Jazz Age architecture – one of the biggest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the world, some employing Maori motifs. Napier is in the Hawke’s Bay region, home to some of New Zealand’s best vineyards, many of which offer guided tours and tastings. Also on North Island is the charming capital, Wellington; learn about the country’s history at the fascinating national museum, Te Papa, take a stroll through the lovely Botanical Gardens or simply relax and raise a glass of local Sauvignon Blanc at one of Wellington’s smart harbour-front restaurants. 

Experience the almost otherworldly geothermal landscape of Rotorua, with its steaming geysers and natural hot springs, and maybe take a cruise on New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Taupo, formed in the second century AD by a massive volcanic eruption; so violent, in fact, that it darkened the skies as far away as Europe. Rotorua is also one of the best areas of the country to explore Maori history and culture, and joining in a traditional hangi feast is an unforgettable highlight for many visitors.

On South Island, the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch is beginning to rebuild after the damage caused by the 2011 earthquakes, and the striking Transitional Cathedral – the only cathedral in the world made largely of cardboard – and the city centre retail units housed in brightly-painted shipping containers, are testament to the resilience of the local people. Further south, Dunedin exudes a distinct Scottish influence, and is the gateway to the beautiful Otago Peninsula, a wildlife haven where you’ll find colonies of endangered yellow-eyed penguins and albatrosses, while Queenstown, a major centre for sports such as skiing, skydiving and rafting, lies on the shore of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, where vintage steamships offer scenic cruises. Not too far away is the magnificent Fjordland National Park, while other natural treasures of South Island include Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak, and the breathtaking Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.