We’re always looking at ways to make our tours better, it’s really important to us that our itinerary offers the very best New Zealand small group travel experience for our guests and from time to time we make little improvements to the trip.

For the 2018/2019 season, starting with tours departing in October 2018, we’re making the following changes to the itinerary:

Two nights in Wellington

People always tell us they love Wellington and in particular the amazing 5-star accommodation at the Bolton Hotel, but they’ve also told us they’d like more time to see all the spots Wellington is famous for. You'll be spoilt for choice with Te Papa National Museum, Weta Workshop (where they made Lord of the Rings props), Zealandia wildlife sanctuary, Parliament tours, the Cable Car to the Botanical Gardens, Art Galleries, the Planetarium, shopping and of course the amazing food and craft beer scene. Local tip - check out the caricature puppets of our politicians at the Backbencher pub.

At the moment we travel from Napier to Wellington and usually arrive in the capital early afternoon with a free afternoon and evening before heading off early the next day to catch the ferry to the South Island. While everyone appreciates trying to see as many places as possible, a lot of people have said they would love more time in Wellington so that's what we've done.

How will our itinerary change?

From Tongariro National Park, we will now travel directly to Wellington and spend two nights here. Unfortunately this means we will no longer visit Napier, this wasn’t an easy decision but the feedback that most people would more time to see the sights of Wellington has lead to this decision.

As well as for all tours from October 2018, we’ll also spend two nights in Wellington on our Cosy Kiwi Winter tours starting in May 2018.

Wellington Cable Car and City Views

Two Nights in Punakaiki

This is a real win-win situation, basically we’re dropping nothing at all from the itinerary and are adding another two night stay to make a very special way to end the trip in Punakaiki. We’ll still visit all our favourite spots in Glacier Country like Lake Matheson, Fox or Franz Josef Glacier and Okarito Lagoon but we’ll now spend just one night in Franz Josef and travel on to Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks for the last two nights on the coast.

There are some amazing walks, wildlife experiences and activities in this part of the country you’ll love and Paparoa National Park is an amazing environment with its towering limestone cliffs and Nikau Palms. You’ll have a great choice of activities like a coastal walk, visiting the Cape Foulwind seal colony or the amazing Nile River Glowworm Caves. There are some amazing hikes all around Punakaiki, including one which leaves from right outside our accommodation and conveniently finishes at the Punakaiki Pub! Our home for two nights here is the Punakaiki Resort, right on the beachfront and very close to the famous Pancake Rocks.

Our journey around New Zealand is a really special one, and by spending two nights here in Punakaiki means we can reflect on all the fun memories from our trip in a really relaxed spot with friends and a farewell drink on the beach. There are some really fun activities to try, but if you feel like enjoying your last day with a walk on the beach or relaxing with a book then that's fine too.

How will our itinerary change?

We’ll still travel from Wanaka through to Franz Josef, with time to enjoy all the walks and spots we always do, like the Blue Pools, Ship Creek and Lake Matheson. Of course we’ll still check out either Fox or Franz Josef Glacier, which one we visit will depend on the weather and conditions at the time. After one night in Franz Josef, you'll have the option of a kayak, wildlife cruise or short walk at Okarito Lagoon before we travel on to Punakaiki for two nights.

Punakaiki Rocks lookout and ocean views

What about Kaikoura?

If you’re not aware already, the road into Kaikoura from the north has been permanently closed since November 2016 because of damage sustained in the Kaikoura earthquake at that time. Up until this date, our tours used to spend a night in Kaikoura, between Abel Tasman National Park and Mt Cook, but due to these road closures we have been unable to do so since November 2016. The work to re-open the Kaikoura road is continuing and we expect this route to re-open to us at some point in 2018. Once this happens, we plan to return to Kaikoura as part of our itinerary but this will depend on the availability of accommodation and a few other operational factors.

This has been a really tough challenge for everyone affected to deal with, especially the people of Kaikoura who had their lives and livelihoods affected greatly. We know many visitors really want to visit Kaikoura and it’s always been one of our favourite spots on the road too and we can’t wait to get back visiting the friendly locals, enjoying the seafood and checking out the whales as soon as is practical. We hope you understand this.

Making changes like this to a tour itinerary is always a bit of a juggle, we’ve got people travelling over the 2017/2018 season who need to see their itineraries on the website but of course people planning for their 2018/2019 holiday need to see what they’ll be experiencing too! We’ve created this page to help people who are planning travel from October 2018 or later, the full updated 2018/2019 itinerary is here. From January 2018 we’ll update all the itineraries on the website.

If you’ve got any questions at all about which itinerary you’ll be travelling please get in touch and we’d be happy to help you out.

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