Two tours planned for the southern hemisphere summer – between January and March 2024, final details to be confirmed after my visit there next winter – now that the borders are about to re-open.
Visiting many of the magnificent wonders these incredibly beautiful islands have to offer.
We are planning two separate tours of the North and the South Islands of New Zealand, which can be taken consecutively, or on their own. The dates will be sometime between January and early March. This is high to late summer in New Zealand and the weather is usually pretty good at that time of the year. On my last trip there in early 2020, between mid January and mid March, most days ranged between 21C and 25C, with plenty of warm sunshine.
Each tour will have a duration of about 3 weeks – and having run very successful tours there a few years ago, we know that to travel around and see many varied things does take a considerable amount of time. Each island has a total length of about 1,000 kms by road. Also, one has to take into account the jet lag involved in travelling (possibly) to the other side of the globe. From Britain, it takes about 10 days to fully adjust, although of course one can function quite well after a few days – perhaps initially waking up rather early, or falling asleep too darn early!
We have not yet decided which island to visit first, although it is looking likely that it will be the South Island. There will most likely be a gap between the two tours, (perhaps in Wellington, the capital) to enable some ‘down time’ should you decide to do both tours. It could be that Christchurch is the ending point for the South Island tour. In any case, either are beautiful cities and both are within easy striking distance of remarkable scenery. The North Island tour will end in Auckland, which is the 2nd major city of New Zealand – it is much larger than Wellington (the capital) and well placed for many excursions to places that our tour possibly might not cover. In all honesty, it is impossible to fit everything in that we’d like to. Having spent the best part of a year and a half there during my lifetime, I have still only really only scratched the surface! But I will ensure that many of New Zealand’s highlights will be visited during the tours.
The general format for each tour will be similar. We will have a 25/30 seat bus and driver, although the bus will never be fully occupied, affording us and our luggage plenty of room. The distances are quite large and on many days we will spend a good few hours on the road – which is always a stunning experience in any case, as the scenery is generally breathtaking. Our accommodations will generally be in four star hotels and most meals will be included. However, on some nights you will be free to dine on your own – and let’s be honest, it’s sometimes nice to get away from the group for a few hours after so much time spent together!
Detailed research and final planning is unfortunately delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, but this page will be updated as and when further details are available – so by Spring 2023, brochures for both tours will be available. Anyone who came on our North Island tours in 2015 will know that we plan some unusual activities, as well as those that might be expected. New Zealand has a plethora of ‘well oiled’ tourist activities and we would not want you to miss the best of those; however, we also know of some less well known places that we will take you to – equally stunning and with less crowds.
Many people have asked me over the years which island is the most beautiful? Well, having been to NZ four times now and having spent about 18 months there in total, I can honestly say that both islands are totally magnificent – but in different ways. The North Island, being closer to the equator is rather warmer and more sub tropical in the summer, although in fact the South island can also experience some hot temperatures, particularly down the east coast. The west coast of the South Island can be rather wet at times, as the Southern Alps (Fiordland in particular) attract the weather – the Southern Alps range up and over 4,000M. As in most places, luck often plays a large part in what actually happens when on a tour with fixed dates.
On my last trip there in Jan, Feb and March 2020, I enjoyed predominantly fine weather with rain on only a few days. The North Island has mountains too, which come in ranges of up to 2,500M. Some are simply mountain ranges, but there are several distinct and separate high volcanoes, not to mention numerous geothermal sites. We will not be visiting White Island, although I did go there a few years ago and luckily made it out alive!
The coastlines of New Zealand are truly spectacular, with many fine beaches and remarkable cliffs, often wooded. We will endeavour to build in time for some beach visits and the chance to swim in the Pacific Ocean and The Tasman Sea. Sea temperatures range between 20 and 24C in summer (68 to 74F).
Given that we are all getting older as each year passes, we are trying to make both these tours as easy as possible, but with a few challenges on offer, should you feel like making the most it! New Zealand is largely a mountainous country and to really experience its many splendours requires at least some exertion. However, it’s not all mountains…
Given that we will always have a bus and driver at our disposal, there will be many times when the group can split and participate in two different activities if necessary. Any feedback is welcome from anyone reading this, as to how much walking you would like to do – and it can possibly be taken into account when doing the final detailed planning.
The Highlights of New Zealand as I see them? Off the top of my head – Maori culture, native podocarp forests, vast mountains and glaciers, volcanoes, geothermal sites, endless deserted beaches, fiords, copious lakes, relative lack of crowds, friendly New Zealanders – and a leader who is the envy of the world!
So what is there not to love about New Zealand? Come and join me in 2024 and let’s discover the beauty of New Zealand together.