Zvi Lapian 2021, Winter Vacation in Wellington, New Zealand
Day 1 – Arrive in New Zealand
We will meet in the beautiful country of New Zealand: Kia Ora! Welcome! Arriving in Wellington, you will be met by your local guide and coach driver and transferred to your Wellington hotel. Wedged between bush-clad hills and a splendid natural harbour, Wellington enjoys an incomparable setting of ever-changing moods. On a clear day, the harbour sparkles but the arrival of southern storms can bring amazingly dramatic seas and winds. A vibrant city with a buzzing art, music, theatre and restaurant scene, designer and boutique shopping, Wellington is also home to the New Zealand Parliament and the national museum, Te Papa. Accommodation: Sofitel Hotel, Wellington
Day 2 – Wellington, New Zealand
Depart on a full-day sightseeing tour of Wellington. Highlights include a drive along pretty Oriental Bay to Mt Victoria for the 360-degree panoramic views of the city, Wellington Harbour and the surrounding hills. Also stop to see the magnificent Parliament Buildings and the iconic ‘Beehive’ , the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Government. See Lambton Quay in the heart of Wellington’s shopping and business district and Old St Paul’s Church which is one of New Zealand’s finest examples of colonial Gothic architecture. Visit Zealandia and the Karori Sanctuary. With over 225 hectares of regenerating native forest and 40 species of birds, Zealandia is a unique, world-first eco-attraction, providing an excellent opportunity to experience New Zealand’s natural environment just minutes from the capital city. Enjoy a guided tour of Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum which offers visitors a unique and authentic experience of New Zealand’s treasures and stories. After your guided tour, there is time to explore Te Papa independently to learn about the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture.
Day 3 – Christchurch, New Zealand
This morning we will transfer to the Wellington Airport and fly to Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island. On arrival you will be met by your South Island coach driver. Christchurch has emerged revitalized following the earthquake that devastated much of the city in February 2011. The destruction of several landmark historic buildings has led to the development of new city plans, a bold public art programme and innovative use of space. This afternoon board your coach for a sightseeing tour of Christchurch. Highlights include the Botanic Gardens, Cardboard Cathedral, Art Deco New Regent Street, Christchurch Art Gallery and Hagley Park. Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Christchurch
Day 4 – Christchurch & Franz Josef Glacier
From Christchurch we will traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Trans-Alpine Railway to Arthur’s Pass. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Once we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the Village of Arthurs Pass by our coach for us to continue our journey to the West Coast – or the Coast as locals call it, stopping in Hokitika where a visit is made to the Greenstone and Glass Blowing factories. Further south we tour the Westland National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat Deluxe Rooms, Franz Josef
Day 5 – Franz Josef Glacier
This morning we will join a 30 minute helicopter flight and fly over two of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers and land at the head of either the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier – view the incredible natural phenomenon of the glaciers as they creep slowly down the carved valleys from their origin in the mountains high above you (weather permitting). The magnificent White Heron (Kotuku) nests on the banks of the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve, the only nesting site in New Zealand for this rare icon. Take a a gentle 20 minute scenic cruise by jet boat into the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve (the only way to access this area is by boat). In the reserve we disembark from the boat for a short walk through ancient Kahikatea Rainforest to the purpose-built viewing hide to observe the White Heron in their natural nesting environment. The Royal Spoonbill and the Little Shag also share this special area and all can easily be seen from the hide. On your return to Franz Josef the Glacier Hot Pools, we invite you to leave your day-to-day worries behind as you submerge yourself in deliciously warm water, nestled in lush rainforest, lulled by the sound of gently cascading water.
Day 6 – Franz Josef Glacier
Traveling towards the southern end of the South Island’s West Coast Road, there is a strong sense of entering a primeval land, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park we travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makaroa and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travelling past Lake Hawea we reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. This afternoon we travel via Cromwell following the Kawerau Gorge Road into Queenstown. Accommodation: Sofitel Hotel, Queenstown
We will enjoy a comfortable and relaxing Shabbat at the Queenstown Sofitel Hotel.
Leaving Queenstown, we will skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third largest lake. Travelling via Te Anau to reach the beautiful Eglinton Valley, climbing to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound, where we enjoy a cruise of the Sound. The Sound fjord is dominated by the grandeur of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. From Milford Sound we will retrace our steps to Queenstown, arriving back late evening.
Travel out to Glenorchy for a jetboat ride up the braided channels of the Dart River in a wild and picturesque landscape, amidst the towering peaks, glaciers and ancient forests of spectacular Mt. Aspiring National Park (1½ hours). Learn about the flora and fauna, history, and geology of this World Heritage Area from experienced guides. Enjoy a short walk (30 minutes) through the primitive native beech forest as well as a back country road drive (45 minutes) across the opposite side of the valley through Paradise where some of the locations that were used for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie trilogy can been seen. This afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Queenstown. Highlights include a visit to historic Arrowtown, a quaint village set on the banks of the Arrow River which was once a rip-roaring gold rush town. Time here to sample some of the cafés, galleries and boutiques or you may wish to take a walk to the historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement. This partially restored and well interpreted settlement is a mute reminder and tribute to the contribution made by the Chinese gold miners and business people to the region’s gold mining, cultural and business history. Also see the Edith Cavall Bridge spanning the narrow canyon of the rugged Shotover River; pretty Lake Hayes and travel out to the Kawarau Bridge to see the dare-devils bungy jumping from the original AJ Hackett site. Finish your tour with a gondola ride. Sit back and ride the scenic aerial gondola to Bob’s Peak rising 450m/1500ft high above Queenstown. From here the panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges, including The Remarkables, are breathtakingly spectacular.
This morning we will transfer to Queenstown Airport for your flight to Rotorua. Set on the shores of Lake Rotorua, this popular tourist town has the most energetic thermal activity in the country with bubbling mud pools, gushing geysers, beautiful coloured hot springs and terrace formations created by mineral water. Travel out to the Redwood Forest for an easy walk through the breath-taking Californian Redwoods, which were planted in 1901. Visit Te Puia in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. While in the valley, see the boiling mud pools, steaming silica terraces, hot springs and geysers, including the famous Pohutu Geyser, which can erupt up to 30 metres high. We will visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori learn the traditional carving and weaving skills of their ancestors. Accommodation: Distinction Rotorua Hotel
Today we will visit the thermal area of Waiotapu, one of the world’s most colourful thermal areas. See the Artist’s Palette where different minerals form areas on the pool surface, view the tiny bubbles surfacing in the Champagne Pool and walk down alongside the silica terrace to see the Bridal Veil Falls as well as other thermal activity. The Lady Knox Geyser also plays at 10:15am daily (with a little help from her friends). Then take a walk through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. As you walk downhill through the youngest eco-systems in the world, you will view a range of geothermal activity, native plants and bird -life.See Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake, the world’s largest hot water spring, as well as the mysterious and dramatic Inferno Crater and its beautiful blue hot lake and enjoy the serenity of New Zealand native bush. When you reach Lake Rotomahana, join a boat trip (45 mins) to see the Steaming Cliffs, fumaroles, lake edge geysers, unusual thermal plants as well as the site of the Pink and White Terraces that were destroyed in the Mt. Tarawera eruption. End your day enjoying the unique experience of bathing in the world-famous hot springs at the Polynesian Spa, set in a beautiful garden setting on the edge of Lake Rotorua.
Day 12 – Hobbiton & Waitomo
Leave Rotorua and travel across the bush-clad Mamaku Ranges and across picturesque farmlands to the Matamata region – home to Hobbiton. Experience the real Middle Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton movie set, the bucolic setting for The Shire that featured in the Peter Jackson films, “Lord of the Rings“. Your tour starts with a drive by coach and guide travelling through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you walking through the ten acre site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed, and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth. Upon completion of your tour, enjoy a complimentary beverage in the Green Dragon Inn then return to The Shires Rest. Travel across the picturesque countryside to Waitomo. Join a guided tour of the famous Waitomo Caves to discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos. See the fascinating limestone formations of stalagmites, stalactites and columns that have formed over thousands of years then enjoy a silent boat ride on an underground river into the s tarry wonderland of the magnificent Glow-worm Grotto. From Waitomo continue north through the rural townships of Otorohanga and Te Awamutu, then the city of Hamilton following the Waikato River and over the Bombay Hills to Auckland. Accommodation: Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland
Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a busy nightlife, bush-clad mountain ranges and diverse neighbourhoods to explore. The Waitemata Harbour
is a mecca for sailors, and the popularity of sailing on the harbour has led to the affectionate term, ‘City of Sails’. This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing coach tour of Auckland city. Travel through the city centre, along Karangahape Road with its chequered past and eclectic vibe, past fashionable Ponsonby and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, enjoying views of the Hauraki Gulf and city skyline. Visit the Viaduct Harbour
and Auckland’s famous Queen Street before continuing to the Auckland Domain
. The Domain is the city’s oldest park and, at 75 hectares, one of its largest. Developed around an extinct volcano, it features tropical gardens, duck ponds and public art. Visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum
, built as a memorial to New Zealand’s war dead, who sacrificed their lives in WWI, WWII and other conflicts. The Maori and Pacific Islands Court at the Museum gives an excellent introduction to the people of the Pacific and New Zealand and the remarkable flora, fauna and geography of the area. Then travel along the scenic waterfront route of Tamaki Drive to Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, above Mission Bay. This afternoon you can either take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action, as you sail the beautiful Waitemata Harbour
on an actual America’s Cup yacht! Usually the domain of billionaires and elite professional yachties, these America’s Cup yachts offer the unique opportunity for everyone to participate sailing on these grand-prix racing machines. No experience necessary!
Haere rā from New Zealand! Today you are transferred to Auckland International Airport for your departing flight.