New Zealand has been described as “The world in a shoebox” as it has pieces of most all the geographic features of the world squished into two long islands. This makes for a very stimulating vacation and Canyon Calling ensures that you see the whole country – from volcanoes and beaches to glaciers and alps. New Zealand is Lord of the Rings country – home to some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. Throw in the friendliest, most welcoming people you could ever meet plus great activities and you have the classic lifetime trip. Highlights include a thrilling jet ride in beautiful canyons, sea-kayaking turquoise waters to golden sand beaches, and sailing in the Bay of Islands. There’s even an optional quiet prelude on Fiji’s Beachcomber Island. However nothing is more memorable than our stay on the Maori tribal homeland. We are greeted with ceremony and warmth, treated with generosity and kindness and we leave as family. New Zealanders will open their homes and their hearts to you. One traveler said “God practiced and practiced and when he finally got it right, he made New Zealand.” A trip to “Godzone” is the most special of experiences.
Please see below for optional stay in Fiji prior to NZ trip – $645 per person.
Meet-up at Auckland Airport at 1:30pm in the International Terminal, Arrival Hall. We’ll meet those of you coming in from Fiji around 1pm. Driving through the beautiful city of Auckland you’ll see why it’s called the “City of Sails.” It’s a three-hour drive north to the seaside community of Paihia where we’ll check into our apartments for a three-night stay. A glass of wine on the deck is a perfect way to soak in the views of the bay and feel like you’ve arrived. D
Journey to the top of New Zealand at Cape Reinga! This tour includes a drive along 90-Mile Beach where we take a break to stroll the beach. A favorite activity is our stop to climb up sand dunes for a thrilling toboggan ride down. At Cape Reinga we’ll see the broiling waters where the two oceans meet – a top photo spot. We’ll picnic at a local buffet and enjoy some regional specialties. This is an especially scenic day. Drive back from Kaitaia and there’s time to stroll the shops before a fresh fish and chip dinner. B, L, D
I always feel so great after your trips – excited about where I’ve been, what I’ve done, challenges I’ve met. I experience a country in a way not offered by other companies – via stories, people, food and places off the beaten path. You have my deepest gratitude.
— Joy O, MN
After a lazy breakfast overlooking Paihia harbor we’ll board a yacht and enjoy a wonderfully relaxing sail in the Bay of Islands. Sit back and relax and keep an eye out for dolphins and maybe even orcas. We’ll stop for a swim in crystal clear waters or kayak to an unspoiled beach for a walk up to the overlook – another incredible photo opportunity. Stop in at the tiny community of Russell, where musket holes in historic buildings tell tales of less tranquil times. Before dinner, we’ll visit the park where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Maori people and European settlers. B, L, D
We retrace our route south down through Auckland City. Enjoy a free couple of hours in Auckland to lunch and explore downtown. Later in the afternoon we’ll head across to the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula. Check into our lodging in the seaside community of Tairua. Enjoy dinner in Tairua on the patio of our favorite local restaurant. B, D
The beauty of New Zealand is unsurpassed and your sharing the passion you have for this country is the icing on the cake. Looking forward to the next trip with Canyon Calling.
— Deb S, Australia
After breakfast, it’s an easy hour’s stroll down to Cathedral Cove for swimming and relaxing on the most beautiful beach in New Zealand. The hike back up is wonderfully scenic and there’ll be lots of stops for photos. Drive south this afternoon through coastal communities and kiwi fruit farms in the Bay of Plenty. This evening we are welcomed onto a local Maori marae (homeland) in a moving, traditional ceremony. The dinner the tribe prepares for us is delicious, and we share traditional dances and song. We sleep comfortably and communally in the whare where everyone is invited to speak. Our stay on the marae is a tour highlight. B, D
After breakfast it’s a heartfelt farewell to the generous folks of the marae. Next, we’ll meet our guides and climb into wetsuits and paddle off on a great white water rafting adventure. We raft grade 3 rapids on the Tongariro River running through idyllic native forest. We’ll have lunch back at the rafting base then drive south and see boiling mud pools in this volcanically active region. Our stop at Huka Falls is a dramatic photo opportunity and especially when we have a clear view across Lake Taupo. There is time for shopping in Taupo and then it’s a short drive to Turangi for the evening where an amazing barbecue dinner is prepared by our hosts. B, D
Thank you for a most remarkable trip. It would not have been possible to have a better time. Thank you for following your passion and being a role model for women.
— Charleen T, WA
This morning we’ll stop for breakfast to enjoy an egg pie and a flat white or a long black. We drive south through rolling farm country with great views of the three volcanoes south of Taupo. Our destination is the capital city of Wellington. It may remind you of San Francisco with its scenic harbor and houses clinging to steep hills. After lunch we’ll board a ferry to the South Island, and enjoy this scenic trip through the Marlborough Sounds. We’ll overnight in Picton. B, L
An early start today for a scenic drive across to Nelson then onto Marehau. Sea-kayak the emerald seas and golden beaches of Abel Tasman National Park. Kayak on crystal clear water around the shoreline and across to an island. Relax on the beach and swim while lunch is prepared for us. If there’s an afternoon sea breeze, we’ll hoist our sails and take the easy way back! Change into dry clothes for our 3-hour journey south. It’s a perfect afternoon to stop for a wine tasting! Dinner and lodging this evening is in the quiet country town of Murchison that features a culinary delight of a restaurant, and one that welcomes your newly purchased wine with dinner. B, L, D
Our road south is squeezed between the Southern Alps and a stunning coastline. At Punakiki, walk out to limestone pancake formations and if we’re in luck, the sea will send blowholes into the air. The drive south is often compared with California’s Big Sur, and there is an afternoon stop in Hokitika where you may want to buy New Zealand greenstone. Then we’re off to enjoy a soak in the hot pools of Franz Josef. Dinner is “Blue Ice” pizza! Our lodging at Fox offers fabulous views of Mt Cook as the sun is setting. B, D
Lake Matheson at 6am has a stunning reflection of Mount Cook and after a 30 minute bush stroll you will be treated to great photos. Breakfast near the lake at a wonderful cafe. Nowhere in the world at this latitude have glaciers advanced so close to the sea. We’ll travel through Haast Pass by magnificent deserted lakes on route to Wanaka, and then we’re off to experience a quintessential Kiwi adventure – the Shotover Jet Ride. Drive into Queenstown, NZ’s most beautiful city, for dinner and check into our lodgings for a three-night stay. B, D
After a sleep-in and a lazy breakfast we’ll sail on the historic steam ship Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu. At Walter Peak high country sheep station we’ll see a sheep-dog round-up and a shearing demonstration. Enjoy a sumptuous barbecue lunch at the homestead and stroll the beautiful gardens. On the return trip it’s fun to join a piano sing-a-long. Back in the city you’ll have a couple of hours to shop before dinner and make bookings for activities you have planned for your day off tomorrow. B, L, D
Day at leisure to explore on your own. Queenstown is the launching point for many wonderful trips to places such as Milford Sound, or enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting, explore Arrowtown, or perhaps a horse back ride or bungy jumping! (This free day of recommended activities is at your expense.)
Our drive north to Rangiora ensures we see a huge amount of the famous South Island scenery today. We’ll pass through the high country sheep stations of Mackenzie Country. The scenic highlight will be views of Mt Cook (from the other side!) if it’s a clear day. It towers above the powder blue glacial waters of Lake Pukaki. Lunch at Lake Tekapo, visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and see the memorial to the beloved sheep dog. Drive to a sheep station farm stay for the evening. Our hosts give us a short tour of their farm and serve a beautiful meal for our Farewell Dinner. This is a perfect place to relax and reflect on our journey through Aotearoa.
After a delicious home made breakfast, we’ll transfer to the airport where the tour ends. Reminder to book your flight from Christ Church to Auckland. If you’re heading directly back to North America, you’ll arrive the same day!
Depart Los Angeles, 10.30pm, Air Pacific FJ811 and lose one day to the International Date Line.
Day 3 (Day 2 lost to Int’l Date Line)
Arrive Fiji, 5.15am. Change into summer clothes at the airport. While waiting for your luggage in baggage claim, get out some Fiji cash. Once you are through customs, go through the arrivals hall and outside catch a taxi to the Mercure Hotel in Nadi (pronounced Nandi). Check your duffle bag into their storage room. The Beachcomber Island bus will pick you up there at 8am and transfer you to the jetty to connect with the catamaran over to Beachcomber Island. Scrumptious feasts are prepared by our Fijian hosts and signaled by the beat of drums. Mostly you’ll want to relax and recover from jet lag.
Enjoy an all-day stay on the island. This is a great opportunity to relax and recharge before our New Zealand adventure. Coral viewing and snorkeling are free. You can also sea-kayak, sail, swim or scuba dive. The catamaran collects you at 4pm for return to the mainland. The Beachcomber bus will deliver you to back to the Mercure Hotel to check in for the evening.
The hotel shuttle bus will return you to the airport by 6:45am for Air Pacific flight FJ 411 departing 8:45am. Arrive Auckland 12:45pm where your Canyon Calling Trip Leader will meet you in the arrivals hall.