New Zealand

Sadly cancelled because we did not achieve enough firm comittments by end of June. Very disappointed after 3 years of detailed planning.

 

Two comprehensive tours planned in the southern hemisphere summer – between late January and late March 2024.

I now have the North Island tour worked out and have a fully priced itinerary available: dates Jan 22-20 Feb (29 days).
Closing date for reservations for the North Island tour – end of June, 2023. If not enough comittment by then, it will be cancelled and neither will the South Island tour go ahead.

When I was there earlier this year (’23), I again climbed to the spot where the above picture was taken by me in 2020 – at Castle Point in The Wairarapa (North Island) – it’s an incredible place where sea floor has been up-lifted to form high cliffs, stuffed full of fossils. After extensive research on the North Island for several months, I crossed over to the South Island for more adventures and continued my research there for over six further weeks, earlier this year.

Visiting many of the magnificent wonders these incredibly beautiful islands have to offer.

I am 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 between late January and late March, 2024. This is high to late summer in New Zealand and the weather is usually pretty good at that time of the year. During late January into late March, most days range between 20C and 26C, with plenty of warm sunshine.

Each tour will have a duration of about 4 weeks – and having run a successful tour there a few years ago, I know that to travel around and see many varied things does take a considerable amount of time. Each island has a total length of over 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! If possible, I would advise traveling there a few days before the tour commences, to give you a little recovery time.

My good friend Heather Atkinson, who lives in NZ and who has been of enormous help in helping me put my ideas into action. You will probably meet her…

There will be a gap of a few days between the two tours (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 commence in Auckland, which is the 2nd major city of New Zealand. It is much larger than Wellington and is 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 I’d like to. The hardest part is deciding what to leave out – not what to include. Having spent the best part of a year and a half in total exploring in NZ 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 luxury bus and driver, affording us and our luggage plenty of room. I am aiming for no more than 17 passengers per tour (including myself and the driver) – so that having a smaller bus means we can reach places larger vehicles can’t get to. The distances are quite large and on some 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 some meals will be included. However, on many 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. My experience is that it’s very difficult to eat three course meals every night for a month!

Detailed research and final planning was unfortunately delayed due to the pandemic, but this page will be updated as and when further details are available. I am hoping to have detailed brochures for both tours available soon. 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, plus some exciting activities.

Many people have asked me over the years which island is the most beautiful? Well, having been to NZ five 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 eastern side. The west coast of the South Island can sometimes be rather wet at times, as the Southern Alps (Fiordland in particular) attract the weather – they 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 Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb and March, I enjoyed predominantly pretty good weather, despite the cyclones that battered parts of the North Island. 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 definitely build in time for some beach visits and the chance to swim in the Pacific Ocean and The Tasman Sea. Sea temperatures range between 21 and 24C in summer (70 to 76F).

Given that we are all getting older as each year passes, I am 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.

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 some of the best wines in 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.

Images of New Zealand

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