October 25 – November 12, 2017 (19 days)
Master Gardener Roger Phillips will be our guide on this exploration of the breathtaking landscapes and lush gardens of New Zealand. Soaring mountains form a backdrop to surreal turquoise waters, pristine beaches, colorful hot springs, and volcanic soils burgeoning with plants and blossoms.
Amongst our gorgeous garden tours, we'll also spend two luxurious days at the Taranaki Garden Festival!
From beautiful Maori cultural traditions to charming colonial-era towns and modern cityscapes on the edge of habitation - or Hobbiton - this is sure to be a journey of a lifetime!
- Flight Vancouver - Auckland, New Plymouth - Queenstown, Christchurch - Auckland - Vancouver
- Accommodation in comfortable superior tourist-class hotels
- Special Events, Train, Boat trips, Cultural Activities, Entrances to all Sites and Gardens listed in Itinerary
- Breakfasts (B), Lunches (L) and Dinners (D) as noted in itinerary
- Private bus and guide
- City Tours with local experts
- Airport departure taxes (approx. $880; varies per departure city)
- Most airlines now apply Seat Assignment charges
- We will advise you if so and how much at time of booking
- Travel insurance
- Meals not mentioned
- Gratuities for driver and guide
- Drinks and items of a personal nature
Places: Lake Wanaka - Arrowtown - Lake Wakatipu - Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland - Waimangu - Lake Rotomahana - Akaroa - Coromandel - New Plymouth - Queenstown - Christchurch - Rotorua - Milford Sound
Nonstop flight from Vancouver to Auckland.
We arrive early morning and after clearing Customs we will be met by ur guide and take a short drive to Auckland Botanic gardens. We'll take a leisurely walk through, and enjoy breakfast before heading into the city to check into our hotel. After a time for rest and lunch on your own, we will head out for a mid-afternoon orientation Tour of Auckland. The main gateway to NewZealand, Auckland is a cosmopolitan city of .3 million, with new boutiques and restaurants. Our tour will take in the bustling downtown and waterfront areas, points of historic interest, nd a 360-degree panorama of the city from the SkyTower, with the graceful lines of the Harbour bridge, the sparkling waters of Waitemata Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf so closely identified with the city. We'll also visit quaint Parnell Village, af uent residential suburbs and Tamaki waterfront drive. We'll return to the hotel this evening and gather for dinner. (B,D)
AUCKLAND BOTANIC GARDENS
A spectacular 64 hectare (156 acre) garden and native forest with a distinctive South Paci c avour, designed with a focus on sustainable horticultural principles to optimize the health of the gardens and waterways without relying on fungicides or insecticides. The collections of natives and exotics are complemented by lakes, the award-winning Potter Children’s Garden and a growing collection of large scale outdoor sculpture by New Zealand artists. www.aucklandbotanicgardens.co.nz
After breakfast we depart Auckland for a behind-the-scenes tour of Hamilton Gardens, where still ponds and cascades of water create a sense of tranquillity. It's a garden filled with drama and heady perfume. After time for lunch on your own, we continue over the Bombay Hills, heading east around the Hauraki Gulf. Stopping along the way, we'll have an opportunity for a reviving and intriguing rainforest walk, and cross the hills of the interior range to arrive at our destination. Rustic, relaxed and unspoiled, the coromandel peninsula is one of New Zealand’s best-loved holiday destinations. The rugged volcanic hills are cloaked in native rainforest, and more than 250 miles of spectacular coastline promises you can nd the beach of your dreams. Inspired by the region’s idyllic setting, many artists and crafts people have made the Coromandel their home, and visitors to the area are welcomed into their studios. We will stop in a town en route allowing time for lunch at your discretion. For the next two nights we will stay in beautiful Whangamata which is a popular holiday destination with its pristine white sandy beaches and delightful small township. (B,D)
A fairytale transformation from a rubbish dump into Waikato’s most visited attraction with approximately one million visitors each year, Hamilton Gardens was awarded International Garden of the Year in 2014. Exploring the history of gardening and cultures through themed garden collections, Hamilton Gardens recreates historically important garden styles from the farthest reaches of the world. Each visit is a path of discovery as you step from a peaceful Sung Dynasty Chinese Scholar’s garden through an Italian Renaissance Garden, to be enthralled next by the grandeur of the Indian Char Bagh (‘four quartered’) Garden.
This morning we will be joined by expert local guides who will take us on a private Tour to experience the Coromandel Peninsula's natural heritage and scenic beauty. A photographer's dream, today's tour will offer us a chance to enjoy the flora & fauna of the semi-tropical rainforest with giant ferns, kauri trees and crystal clear streams. We'll visit the old Historic Gold Caves sparkling with glowworms and hear the fascinating history of this magical area. Then we'll be treated to stunning coastal scenery with white sand beaches, magnificent cliffs adorned by ancient Pohutukawa trees, old Maori pa sites and picturesque offshore islands. Tide permitting, we may even be able to visit the Hot Water Beach. (B,L,D)
This morning we depart for Rotorua travelling through the beautiful countryside of the Waikato region. We'll visit the Hobbiton Movie Set for a guided tour around the remarkable confection of Hobbiton Village. After a stop in Matamata Township with time for lunch on your own, we'll make our way to the Agrodome for a show of some of New Zealand's best-known inhabitants. Here the sheep are the stars. We'll see a flock mustered by highly trained sheep dogs along with traditional drenching and shearing demonstrations and a little dairy history, plus some opportunities to visit with the animals. This afternoon we visit Te Puia Thermal Reserve and the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, Rotorua’s most famous attraction. We'll see woodcarving, weaving displays, and the spectacular Thermal Valley with its geysers, fumaroles, colourful silica deposits and boiling mud pools. (B,D)
HOBBITON SET AND GARDENS
On suitably picturesque private farmland we can step into the world of the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit lm trilogies in a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set. Completely rebuilt for The Hobbit, it offers us the chance to see the Hobbit Holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill, the double arched bridge and other structures and gardens used in creating Tolkien's arcadian ideal on film.
This morning we can enjoy another captivating geothermal pageant as we head south for a Nature Walk and Cruise in Waimangu Thermal Valley (shuttles are available for those with limited mobility), a beautiful region of volcanic crater lakes and geothermal activity. This valley is best known for the 1886 eruption of Mount Tarawera. A Cruise on Thermal Lake Rotomahana reveals steaming cliffs and the former site of the Pink & White Terraces, which were world- renowned before the eruption. Next we'll continue our scenic drive to The Buried Village, passing the Blue and Green lakes. During our guided tour we will learn of the Tarawerawera eruption which buried the village in ash and see buildings excavated and numerous recovered Maori artefacts. We'll also hear some of the intriguing village stories, in particular that of Tuhoto Ariki, who foretold the destruction of the village - his house has been excavated and is here on display. Proceeding to our destination, we'll arrive in Rotorua and enjoy some time to rest. This evening we venture out to a village where we are guests at a traditional Maori Hangi meal and Concert at a Marae (Maori community house). At the end of the evening we will be taken on a oodlit Tour through Rainbow Springs' pristine native bush to see New Zealand’s iconic shy Kiwi bird and a three-eyed "living dinosaur", the Tuatara, the sole survivor of a 200 million year-old order. (B,D)
This morning we visit Waiotapu "Sacred Waters", New Zealand most colourful and diverse geothermal attraction. We'll explore the natural wonderland of stunning geothermal activity and watch the spectacular Lady Knox geyser. Departing for Lake Taupo, a major holiday destination for locals and overseas visitors alike, we'll also have a chance to see Wairakei Geothermal Power Station and the mighty Waikato River roaring over Huka Falls. In Taupo we'll visit the Waipahihi Scenic Reserve, its rich oral tapestry offering scenic vistas of Taupo township, Mount Tauhara and the lake with its mountain backdrop. We'll have some time for lunch before we continue our journey through rural farmland to the city of New Plymouth, where we'll check in and enjoy dinner. (B,D)
WAIPAHIHI BOTANICAL RESERVE
The lovely 35 hectare hillside gardens were established in 1966 as a native plant reserve and refuge for native birds, and have been developed enriched as a labour of love by dedicated volunteers ever since. Discover the fascinating alpine garden, lemonwood walk or marvel at the 2,000 rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias skillfully intermingled with the forest and other feature plantings that are a ravishing spectrum every Spring. High on a hill, the reserve offers spectacular views over Lake Taupo to the mountains of the Tongariro National Park. This is a magical and romantic place due to the lush walks, native fauna and outstanding views. waipahihibotanicalgardens.co.nz
The following major garden events will be operating simultaneously Details of each are yet to be published, but we'll spend two full days visiting the participating gardens of both festivals.
The Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular was previously known as the Taranaki Rhododendron Festival. A major festival celebrating the most beautiful gardens in a region surrounding Mt. Taranaki known for its horticultural excellence, with an array of gardens and special events.
The Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival was launched to display those gardens that had not previously been featured in the other even Independently assessed to exacting standards, both festivals' changing rota showcases dozens of Taranaki’s most extraordinary gardens, providing a wonderful, inspirational experience and welcoming forum for gardeners to share their profound knowledge and passion.
If you crave a break from garden gazing, a number of special events will be happening throughout town in conjunction with the festival and attractions such as the Puke Ariki Museum hold some excellent heritage collections to be explored. (B,D)
POWERCO TARANAKI GARDEN SPECTACULAR AND TARANAKI FRINGE GARDEN FESTIVAL
We plan to visit 6 gardens each of the 2 days that we have devoted to New Zealand's largest garden festivals. Events include access to more than 50 of Taranakis most exceptional gardens, a landscape design project, tours, guided walks, art and community celebrations. Delight in the splendour and variety of the famously lovely gardens of Taranaki. www.gardenfest.co.nz & www.taranakigardens.co.nz
Another glorious day of exploring the Taranaki Garden Festival and Taranaki Fringe Garden Festival and adjacent garden and tourist attractions. The evening is free, allowing you leisure to explore the city and its many great restaurants, or linger over the sights. (B)
This morning we will visit the Govett Brewster Gallery before transferring to the airport for flight to Queenstown. The Len Lye Centre in the Gallery features the experimental films and kinetic sculpture of this artist, whose work is prominent throughout New Plymouth. On arrival in Queenstown we will be met and transferred to our hotel, where we will enjoy some time at leisure before dinner. (B,D)
We start the day in beautiful Chantecler Gardens which should be a mass of Spring bloom at over 700 plants and 200 varieties through several acres of garden and woodlands. Next we can tour and sample the wines at nearby Amisfield Vineyard. This is the southernmost wine growing region in New Zealand, just north of the 45th Parallel. High altitude, cool climate, long summers, and clean soils allow this area to produce some of the best Pinot Noirs and aromatic white wines in New Zealand. The Amisfield Wine Company’s Winery & Bistro is housed in an iconic stone building ten minutes from Queenstown, with great views of snow covered mountains and Lake Hayes.
Snow-capped mountains towering over the deep blue waters of Lake Wakatipu, fringed by poplars and weeping willows, set the stage for Queenstown, possibly New Zealand’s most spectacular and popular resort destination. We'll tour some of the sights as we return to the city, allowing time for you to have lunch at your discretion and rest up for the evening. Tonight is a special treat as we board the Vintage steam ship TSS Earnslaw, crossing the lake to Walter Peak High Country Station for a sumptuous BBQ dinner and a demonstration by well- drilled sheep dogs and sheep. (B,D)
A 12 acre garden designed in 2006 with ponds, waterfalls, fountains, bridges and a stream. In the rich soil the plantings have matured with staggering speed, providing a wonderful array of colors, designs and scents, all set in the scenic Waikitipu Basin with views of the aptly named Remarkables Mountains. Planned in themes from English to Formal to Tuscan to French to Oriental-themed and Native Gardens. www.chantecler.co.nz
We depart early for a beautiful journey along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to New Zealand’s prettiest lakes as we head toward Te Anau and Milford Sound. Prepare to be awestruck by the extraordinary beauty of the hanging valleys, precipices and cascades as we make our way to this world-famous beauty spot. Once through the Homer Tunnel and the Eglinton Valley, we emerge on the shores of Milford Sound. Cleft during the ice age and dominated by the mile high Mitre Peak, Rudyard Kipling once described the Sound as the "Eighth Wonder of the World.” A Nature Cruise on Milford Sound affords you breathtaking views of the Fiord, as it may have been seen by the earliest explorers. We'll enjoy lunch on board as we cruise the length of the Fiord right up to the soaring 1,200 foot cliffs and thundering waterfalls. Turning where the Fiord meets the Tasman Sea, we’ll have the enchanting experience of watching this majestic ord emerge and unfold before us. The captains are adept at seeking out playful schools of dolphins and fur seals basking on the sunny rocks to punctuate our unforgettable journey. Returning to Queenstown, the evening is at leisure to relax or seek out some of the city's abundant dining options. (B,L)
After breakfast we depart for a visit to beautiful Blair Garden. It's a beautiful setting, rich with texture and impressive views of the surrounding mountains. Next we visit Arrowtown, an historic gold mining town on the banks of the Arrow River where we'll learn a little about the industry that shaped its development. We'll return to the hotel and have the afternoon at leisure to enjoy lunch, relax or enjoy the many activities that Queenstown offers. You may nd treasures and bargains in the shops, stroll through the civic gardens, or hire clubs and chase a ball around one of the prettiest golf courses in New Zealand. An extraordinary dinner tonight awaits us at the Skyline Restaurant at the top of Bob’s Peak, which is accessed by gondola. Sensational views of the town and the lake framed by the Remarkable Mountains accompany the meal. (B,D)
Begun 34 years ago, this imaginative and innovative country garden is the reflection of the passion and vision of its owner Janet Blair. An old pioneer cottage and an equally old stone shed with corrugated iron roof form the centrepiece, together with very old and craggy elderberry trees.
A large colour-themed bed borders the old shed and there are large drifts of old roses together with herbaceous plants, bulbs, shrubs and trees. Throughout, the garden is well maintained and attention to detail is a feature with apple trees trained into swirls and lawns cut to reflect the evening shadows. There is a masterful use of green and much thought has gone into ensuring there is seasonal colour to reflect the surrounding landscape.
Departing Queenstown we head north through an area steeped in the fascinating history of New Zealand's early settlement and the gold mining era as we head toward Lake Wanaka, a picture-postcard resort town on the lake’s edge. Past Lake Hawea and the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka into the Mt. Aspiring and Westland National Parks, we cross to the West Coast. We'll enjoy an exhilarating Cruise on the beautiful Haast River and lunch at the World Heritage Hotel. Continuing along the rugged beaches and dense rainforests of the West Coast, we'll travel towards the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Arriving at the hotel we'll check in with some time to rest before dinner. (B,L,D)
This morning we depart Franz Josef and continue along the west coast past small villages to Hokitika, where we will visit a Greenstone Workshop to see craftsmen cutting and polishing boulders to create fine jade jewelry. After time for lunch on your own, we will continue to Greymouth, where we board the TranzAlpine Train. One of the world’s top rail journeys, this route across the country’s greatest mountain range offers up a succession of fabulous panoramas. As we cross the Southern Alps, we will travel over massive viaducts and through spectacular gorges and river valleys to the garden city of Christchurch. We arrive in time to check in and enjoy dinner. (B,D)
We begin today with a Tour of Christchurch. The city was devastated by an earthquake in 2011 and with determination and creative minds the city is being re-imagined. We'll see evidence of the destruction juxtaposed with innovative architecture like that of the new Christchurch art gallery in the city centre. The ingenious Re-Start Mall, made out of shipping containers, is a sight worthy of note. We'll also visit the International Antarctic Centre, the base for the joint New Zealand, Italian and US Antarctic Exploration programs. Next we visit Mona Vale Gardens with its mature trees, sloping lawns, herbaceous borders, large rose garden, irises and water lily pond. Then we have some time for lunch before meeting the gardening crew for a tour of Christchurch Botanical Gardens. Our tour ends with the option to explore the adjacent Christchurch Museum and walk back to th hotel, or return by coach. The rest of the afternoon we are at liberty to rest and enjoy the city sights. We will come together again in the early evening to enjoy cocktails and celebrate our adventure with a Farewell Dinner. (B,D)
MONA VALE GARDENS
Just ve minutes from Christchurch city centre, Mona Vale is a serene haven covering ve and a half hectares sloping gently down to the Avon River that flows through the city. With beautifully manicured lawns and exquisite flower beds, the gardens will delight both keen gardeners and those seeking a restful oasis. A particular highlight is the Rose Garden, established in 1994, which exhibits many heritage varieties alongside modern hybrids.
CHRISTCHURCH BOTANICAL GARDENS
Since 1863 the natural wetlands and sand dunes have been gradually transformed into an elegantly cultivated 21 hectare park with more than 10 different gardens framed by mature trees and expansive lawns, mostly contained within a loop of the Avon River. With more than one and a half million recorded visits each year, the Gardens are at the heart of Christchurch’s reputation as the Garden City. A temperate climate supports many thousands of plants, gathered from around the world and across the country. Highlights include lush annual bedding displays, a prominent rose garden containing 150 varieties, native plant gardens, and a tropical conservatory collection.
Today we will visit lovely Fisherman’s Bay Garden and the scenic French settlement of Akaroa, where there will be time for lunch o sightseeing on your own. You may want to linger to explore all the pretty harbour town has to offer. Adventurous souls can walk up to the charming Giants House Garden, a riot of colourful motifs and mosaic in a scenic setting overlooking the harbour. We leave Akaroa later in the afternoon and return to our hotel in Christchurch for dinner. (B,D)
FISHERMANS BAY GARDEN
Fishermans Bay Garden is a haven in the rugged and dramatic landscape of the Banks Peninsula coastline. Winding paths and a varied landscape have inspired a garden with many parts, including a traditional ower border, herb garden, farm garden, fern garden, a shaded streamside valley and pond and a wild, exposed rock garden. An extensive variety of locally sourced native plant species offer visitors a unique snapshot of the rich and varied plants of Banks Peninsula. The gardener is also a keen collector of native hebes, and the site currently boasts more than 150 species and cultivars. A diverse array of native and non-native plants, artfully blended.
GIANTS HOUSE GARDEN
"The happiest garden on earth" has been deemed a Garden of National significance by the New Zealand Garden Trust. Romantic, secluded, whimsical, quiet, and truly unique, this garden showcases sculpture, a mosaic garden and Gallery.
The morning is at leisure in Christchurch. In the early afternoon we transfer to the airport for our flight to Auckland to connect with our direct flight back to Vancouver. As we recross the International Dateline on this flight, we regain a day and arrive home on the same day we left New Zealand. (B)