New Zealand: Kiwi Wonderland

March 12-23, 2019 • 12 Days • $4990**

**Pricing with New Traveler Discount: $4690

We are excited to present the 2019 edition of the New Zealand & Australia walking adventure! No other program we offer presents such a diversity of experiences over such a wide range of climatic, cultural, and geological extremes. From the mystical red desert in the outback at Ayers Rock to the pristine mountain scenery of New Zealand’s Southern Alps; from Sydney’s cosmopolitan glitz and glamour to the unpretentious home stays in New Zealand’s South Island; from the primordial limestone canyons of the Blue Mountains to the cool fjordland beauty of Doubtful Sound, this corner of the world presents an amazingly rich kaleidoscope of experiences and heritages for us to explore and enjoy.

**Traveler Rewards Program 2019: New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the New Zealand: Kiwi Wonderland tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Auckland Pre-tour

March 10-11, 2019 • 2 Days • $265

This package offers travelers a chance to arrive early and explore the Auckland area before setting off on our New Zealand Adventure!

View Daily Itinerary

Combo Package

New Zealand (12 days) and Australia (10 days) are available as two separate Adventures; they can also be combined into one unforgettable 21-day Down Under experience. For those with a yen to explore the rugged wonderland of Tasmania, Australia’s fascinating island state, the Hidden Tasmania Extension can be added to the combined experience or to Australia Only.

LAND PACKAGE PRICING:

  • New Zealand & Australia
    March 12–April 1, 2019 * 21 Days * $9465
  • New Zealand Only
    March 12–March 23, 2019 * 12 Days * $4990
  • Australia Only
    March 23–April 1, 2019 * 10 Days * $4475
  • Hidden Tasmania Extension
    April 1–5, 2019 * 5 Days * $2750
    (15-person minimum)

To help offset half-way-around-the-world jetlag, we encourage travelers to arrive early into either New Zealand or Australia (if starting there). In New Zealand, we offer a 2-day early arrival Auckland package. Travelers opting for this package will arrive into Auckland on March 10, which allows us to share a special full-day experience on Waiheke Island. In Australia, we have booked rooms in our Melbourne hotel for those who wish to arrive a day early (on March 22).

AIR PACKAGE PRICING (Optional): **

Group airfare with Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia Airlines for the full Adventure includes roundtrip flights from Los Angeles, 2 internal flights in New Zealand, 2 internal flights in Australia, the flight between New Zealand and Australia, and the flight to Tasmania. Flights for the full Adventure take us on the equivalent of nearly one circumference of the globe and are a significant element of the trip expense. The optional air package is as follows.

  • New Zealand & Australia: $2399
  • New Zealand Only: $1699
  • Australia Only: $2270
  • New Zealand, Australia & Tasmania Extension: $2620
  • Australia & Tasmania Extension: $2450

**NOTE: These prices are based upon departure from the Los Angeles International Airport on the arrival dates of March 10 (New Zealand) and March 22 (Australia).

It may be more cost-effective for you to fly out of one of our two other available gateway airports – Chicago or Houston. There may be a change in pricing for requesting different departure dates and gateway cities. Connecting flights from your hometown to one of these three departure airports may also be available as an add-on to your group airfare.

Contact our office for more details on group airfare and pricing at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Auckland Pre-tour

Including:

  • Auckland hotel for 2 nights with breakfast (Single Supplement: $130)
  • Airport group transfer

Optional Excursion:

  • Waiheke Island Adventure (Day 2, March 11)

New Zealand

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfers on first and last day
  • All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
  • Tourist-class or better hotel accommodations (2-4 star)
  • 16 meals: 11 breakfasts and 5 dinners as listed (BD)
  • All listed walks
  • Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural and historical expertise of a driver/guide or national guide throughout
  • All tipping for local guides and coach drivers
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy; single rooms are available for an additional supplement of $890.**

Activities/Visits to:

  • Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari – North Island
  • Tumunui Marae Maori Hangi Feast – North Island
  • Agrodome Sheep Show – North Island
  • Waimangu Volcanic Valley – North Island
  • 1-night home stay with hosts in Rangiora area – South Island
  • Nile River Glowworm experience – South Island
  • Overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound aboard the Fiordland Navigator – South Island
  • Plus more fun stops than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Glowworm Underworld Rafting – South Island (Day 6)
  • Gondola Ride and Dinner at Skyline Restaurant – South Island (Day 10)

**NOTE: We spend one night aboard ship on the Doubtful Sound. Single cabins are not available.

“Every day another adventure, a surprising experience – typical of a WAI tour. Never a dull moment.”

– Margie M; Gaithersburg, MD


“Interesting varied activities – not normal tourist activities, good organization of trip, comfortable hotels, small groups and wonderful leadership.”

– Donna S; Ventura, CA


 “I loved the animal centers, the trolley dinner, the Milford cruise, the Sydney cruise, and the Farm Stay. Favorite was the Great Barrier Reef.”

– Sharon F; Anacortes, WA


“This has been one of the best trips we’ve taken, and we travel a lot. We were gone almost a month, and every day brought a new surprise and delight. This is a special part of the world, and you gave us the best of it, in detail. Great job, WAI!”

-Janet & Clark C; Sequim, WA

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Tourist Class or better (2-4 star)

Meals

Breakfasts included with a selection of dinners. Letters BD indicate which meals are included.

Airfare

Not included. The start point is Auckland and end point is Queenstown. Group airfare package available!

Transportation

Included. Featuring full-size motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 45+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guides Scott Isom & Russ IsomScott Isom & Russ Isom are a father-son team and will be accompanied by national and local guides on the New Zealand & Australia tour. Scott & Russ have a passion for exploring the outdoors and have enjoyed hiking the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest area for years. Scott has led tours on all 7 continents and is one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners. Russ will be assisting Scott on this tour, and has been both guiding and assisting on Walking Adventures for over 10 years. They look forward to sharing the sights of New Zealand & Australia with you in 2019!

Itinerary

Click on each day for more details.

Auckland Pre-tour

Day 1-Mar 10: Arrive Auckland, NZ (B)

After arrival at our centrally located hotel early in the day, the balance of the day is free to rest and explore. Suggested activities will be provided.

Day 2-Mar 11: Activities from the Auckland Area (B)

Travelers are free to enjoy more time in the Auckland area today, or consider joining us for the optional Waiheke Island Adventure.

Today’s optional Waiheke Island Adventure starts with a ferry ride across Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island. Once ashore a delightful duet of trails offering 6 kilometers of walking introduces us to this popular island recognized on recent Top Ten lists by both Conde Nast and Lonely Planet. The Waiheke Headlands Walk takes in cliff top vistas and traverses coastal forests with stunning views into Hauraki Gulf. The Waiheke Wineries Walk follows a trail between vineyards for which Waiheke has gained renown, stopping at one of them for a mid-walk lunch. We return by ferry to Auckland where the evening is free to explore the waterfront or rest at our hotel. Includes roundtrip ferry service, WAI guide service, local transportation and guide service on Waiheke Island, walks on Waiheke Island, and lunch at a local winery. Estimated price: $195

New Zealand

Day 1-Mar 12: Arrive Auckland, New Zealand (D)

Auckland City of Sails Walk – 12 km, rated 3B

Travelers arrive in New Zealand early this morning. After freshening up at the hotel, we take in our first walk of the Adventure, a delightful city route on Auckland’s Coast-to-Coast trail. We begin at One Tree Hill, one of several volcanic cones in Auckland, and wind through city parks and neighborhoods, hike up Mount Eden, another volcanic cone, and finish at the Auckland Domain. The Domain is the city’s oldest park, set in yet another volcanic crater, and home to the lovely Wintergardens greenhouses and the Auckland War Memorial Museum, where walkers can opt for a fascinating introduction to New Zealand’s natural and human history (not included).  The afternoon is free to rest and enjoy the downtown area near our hotel before rendezvousing for our Welcome Orientation and dinner.

Day 2-Mar 13: Auckland - Rotorua, NZ (BD)

Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari – 3 km, rating unknown
Te Waihou Walkway – 5 km, rated 2B

We drive south this morning into the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. First stop is Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. A reserve was established here in 1912, and more recent protections have developed the Sanctuary into an area free from introduced species, a major challenge to New Zealand’s isolated ecosystem. A self-guided walk here takes us through the New Zealand bush as it was before the arrival of the Maori and mammals. This afternoon’s trail parallels a lovely trout stream flowing with crystal-clear waters and bordered by the ever-present tree ferns (New Zealand has about 200 species of ferns!). After checking into our hotel in Rotorua for a two-night stay, we experience a slice of Polynesian Maori culture this evening at a Tumunui Marae (meeting place): take part in the fearsome Maori powhiri (welcome ceremony), enjoy fast paced Maori song and dance, and indulge in the bountiful Maori hangi (feast).

Day 3-Mar 14: Activities from Rotorua (B)

Waimangu Volcanic Valley Walk – 4 km, rated 2B (Not IVV sanctioned)

On June 10, 1886, New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption in the past 700 years created the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley.  This morning’s walk explores the world’s youngest hydrothermal system including Frying Pan Lake (121°F), Iodine Pool (208°F), Inferno Crater (176° F) and a rare eco-system reestablished naturally since the 1886 eruption. After free time for lunch, we visit the entertaining Agrodome Sheep Show back in Rotorua to learn about sheep, the traditional mainstay of the New Zealand economy that still outnumbers New Zealand’s human inhabitants by a large margin. The evening is free to explore Rotorua and its lovely lakefront, and rest before tomorrow’s early wakeup call.

Day 4-Mar 15: Rotorua - Rangiora home stay, NZ (BD)

Christchurch Garden City Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

An early morning flight transports us to the South Island for the remainder of our New Zealand Adventure. We arrive in lovely Christchurch, considered by some “the most English city outside England.” The February 2011 earthquake left an indelible impression on the city and surrounding area and has affected the route of our walk in Christchurch. We plan to feature the lovely Botanic Gardens, a slice of Hagley Park, a section along the meandering, willow-lined Avon River, and symbols of the city’s recent earthquake struggles, including the remains of ChristChurch Cathedral. Early this afternoon, we divide into smaller groups to visit individual host families for dinner and an overnight visit filled with home cookin’, fun conversation, and whatever our Kiwi hosts have in store! This memorable taste of Kiwi culture is always a favorite!

Day 5-Mar 16: Rangiora home stay – Greymouth, NZ (B)

Kura Tawhiti Castle Hill Walk – 3 km, rated 2B (Not IVV sanctioned)

Today is primarily a day of travel through strikingly dissimilar landscapes of the South Island. After a drive across the picturesque patchwork of the Canterbury Plains, we stop at Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area to stretch our legs on a stroll through grand limestone rock battlements that led early European travelers to name the area Castle Hill. Next we cross the pristine Southern Alps and continue down their lush western slopes to our home for the next two nights in Greymouth. The West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island is isolated and sparsely populated, and further south, rainfall is measured in meters! With a population of about 14,000 souls, Greymouth is the largest city on the West Coast, and accounts for about 40% of its inhabitants!

Day 6-Mar 17: Activities from Greymouth (B)

Pororari River Track – 7 km, rating unknown

We’re excited to share a day of new activities today north of Greymouth. The Pororari River Track is a stellar nature walk that takes us through lush forests of Paparoa National Park. The trail features pristine Pororari River coursing through a picturesque limestone gorge leaving deep pools as it winds around massive boulders. Part two of the day introduces us to another New Zealand icon – the glowworm! A bus ride takes us to the Nile River Canyon to board the Nile River Rainforest Train. Our destination is the Nile River Cave System, an ancient wonderland of fragile calcite formations which we explore on foot, and a favorite home of the glowworm. Stalactites, stalagmites, and galaxies of glowworms make this one of the more memorable afternoons of the adventure!

Optional Glowworm Underworld Rafting: This is the Adventure option to experience the Nile River Cave System! It takes place in the same cave system, but involves donning wetsuits, gloves, and helmets and floating on inner tubes on a slow-moving underground river through even more astonishing galaxies of glowworm caverns. You emerge back into daylight to float a series of gentle rapids before returning by train. This glowworm experience is considered even more “brilliant” then the standard “on-foot” experience. Estimated price: $40

Day 7-Mar 18: Greymouth – Haast, NZ (B)

Lake Matheson Walk – 5 km, rated 2B
Fox Glacier Walk – 3 km, rated 3C

First stop today is the tiny coastal hamlet of Hokitika to watch jade craftsmen work their wonders. Further south, two walks in the Fox Glacier area provide contrasting glimpses into the natural wonders of the West Coast. Fox Glacier itself is a river of ice that finishes its journey in a surprising setting, a subtropical forest. Our route changes according to the flow of the glacier, but we expect to walk the valley floor through glacial moraine to get as close as possible to the terminal face of Fox Glacier. Our second trail is a lovely nature walk encircling the placid, tea-colored waters of Lake Matheson, a dramatically effective mirror for the profiles of Mounts Tasman and Cook. In good weather, you’ll recognize these images from postcards and New Zealand travel promos – it’s truly spectacular!

Day 8-Mar 19: Haast – Wanaka, NZ (B)

Monro Beach Walk – 5 km, rated 1A
Diamond Lake Walk – 5 km, rating 2B

Just north of Haast, we find a trail winding through the otherworldly solitude of luxuriant temperate rainforest to Monro Beach on the Tasman Sea. This is a walk to do quietly, listening for birdcalls, especially clear, melodic tones of the bell bird. Next, we re-cross the continental divide into a different kind of climate and natural beauty—semi-arid landscapes punctuated by a seemingly endless chain of lakes. The afternoon walk offers some of the Adventure’s best panoramas—over Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps. We overnight in the small town of Wanaka, on the shores of its lovely namesake lake.

Day 9-Mar 20: Wanaka – Doubtful Sound, NZ (BD)

From Wanaka, we drive through sheep-dotted pastures en route to Manapouri. The likely highlight of our New Zealand odyssey begins with a short cruise across Lake Manapouri, followed by a coach ride over Wilmot Pass through dense rainforest, arriving at Deep Cove on Doubtful Sound. Here, we board the Fiordland Navigator to cruise untouched, unrivaled, and unforgettable Doubtful Sound. Three times longer and with a surface area ten times greater than its more famous cousin to the north, Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound promises even more of the only-in-New Zealand scenic sensory overload we’ve enjoyed during many visits to Milford Sound. The schedule is flexible, but the plan is to cruise the length of the Sound to the Tasman Sea with opportunities for wildlife viewing, waterfall watching, kayaking or small boat excursions, preludes to a delicious dinner and a peaceful evening bobbing placidly beneath the southern stars.

Day 10-Mar 21: Doubtful Sound – Queenstown area, NZ (B)

Following a relaxing mariner’s breakfast, we explore other parts of the fiord, returning finally to Deep Cove for the reverse journey over the pass to Manapouri. Our journey then takes us through more pleasing pastoral scenes en route to our destination in the Queenstown area for a two-night stay.

You’re invited to join us this evening for a gondola ride to the Skyline Restaurant, offering panoramic views over Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range with a dinner buffet that’s nearly expansive as the view.  Estimated price: $80

Day 11-Mar 22: Activities from the Queenstown area, NZ (BD)

Lake Wakatipu Walk – 6 km, rated 1A

Our final day in New Zealand starts with an easy, colorful lakeside stroll through autumn foliage along the Frankton Arm of beautiful Lake Wakatipu. The afternoon is free to explore this fun lakeside resort, considered the “adventure capital” of New Zealand. Multiple jetboat thrill rides, for example, are available to view the region’s spectacular scenery through adrenaline-flooded eyes. Or consider joining us for a nostalgic trip to 19th century Arrowtown, a charming, gold rush village nestled along the Arrow River. We rendezvous this evening for a Farewell Dinner to reminisce about our adventure in remarkable New Zealand!

Day 12-Mar 23: Depart Queenstown for Melbourne, Australia -OR- Home (B)

We say farewell to New Zealand Only travelers today as they make the return flight back across the Pacific. After some down time this morning, travelers continuing on to Australia depart mid-afternoon for a flight directly to “marvelous Melbourne”. Upon arrival, we rendezvous with Australia Only travelers “fresh” from North America at our strategically situated hotel in the vibrant city of Melbourne.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your registration ($500 for either New Zealand or Australia or $1000 for the combined New Zealand & Australia tour) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted on each tour.

Traveler Rewards Program 2019 - NEW!

New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the New Zealand: Kiwi Wonderland tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards 2019 page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The New Traveler and Alumni Traveler Discounts apply only to the main tour price. The Auckland Pre-tour is not eligible for these discounts.

Updates & Revisions to New Zealand 2019

Our Down Under Adventure has been offered many times, dating back to the late ‘90s. The 2019 edition, however, includes a number of revisions and improvements.

Updates to New Zealand 2019:

  • A new walk is added at Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, a predator-free zone that should give us an idea what New Zealand looked and felt like before the coming of the Maoris and Europeans, and all the introduced species.
  • A new walk is added on the South Island’s West Coast in Paparoa National Park following the Pororari River through a lovely, limestone gorge.
  • A highly rated glowworm experience has been added on the South Island in an area that is new to WAI. The glowworm experience is difficult to describe, but it requires dark places (often caves) and has a magical, otherworldly-like quality. In this case, you have the option to amp up the experience by signing up for the float trip option in inner tubes!
  • An overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound is on our program for the first time. We’ve visited Milford Sound on all prior visits, but keep hearing about Doubtful Sound, its larger neighbor to the south. It’s more remote than Milford Sound, which says something since Milford Sound is at the end of the road, and it’s considered wilder.

More Notes on Airfare

Additional details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, which will be mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please review the Adventure Advice flyer carefully prior to purchasing your airfare!

  • Due to the crossing of the International Date Line, flights depart the USA 2 days previous to the tour’s start date in New Zealand or Australia.
  • Departure airports available include Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Pricing listed above is based on departure from the Los Angeles International Airport.
  • In order to ensure an uninterrupted continuation of the itinerary, travelers who opt to book their own airfare need to book the same flights as the group.

Contact our office for more details on group airfare and pricing at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

General Tour Conditions & Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

What about the walks?

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email [email protected] -OR- call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the squaremouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz – (866) 884-3556
  • Betins – (866) 552-8834
  • Travel Guard – (800) 826-4919
  • Travel Insured International – (800) 243-3174

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

What happens next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. The Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

These two Down Under countries offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore some of the most exotic regions on our amazing planet. WAI offers a unique, one-of-a-kind approach to exploring our world – the powerful blend of comfortable motorcoach sightseeing with get-off-the-bus walking activities that connect you with the destination! Join us for a journey of discovery—a walking adventure that explores the history, culture, and scenery of New Zealand & Australia!