Embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey with your fellow solo travellers to explore the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Traverse breathtaking mountain ranges, encounter natural marvels like thermal springs and geysers, and immerse yourself in the splendour of National Parks and serene lakes. Commencing our adventure in the northern hub of Auckland, the ‘City of Sails,’ we navigate the scenic Bay of Islands, roam the geothermic wonders of Rotorua, and step back in time to the 1930s in Napier. Our exploration culminates in the ‘windy city’ of Wellington, the vibrant capital.
Transitioning to the South Island, our expedition unfolds against the backdrop of the Southern Alps, where the majestic Mount Cook captivates with its awe-inspiring presence. Amidst the vast expanse of lakes, we embark on the scenic Tranz Alpine train journey, and for those seeking an extraordinary experience, the option to soar to Franz Joseph Glacier awaits. This journey promises an immersive encounter with the diverse landscapes and captivating wonders that define the unparalleled beauty of New Zealand.
We begin our journey to the other side of the world, departing the UK this evening, for a connecting flight, arriving in New Zealand two days later.
Due to flying around the world and time zones, we lose a day on the way out, don’t worry, we get it back on our return.
Welcome to New Zealand! We transfer to our hotel, joining our fellow solo travellers this evening for a welcome drink and dinner.
Today we depart Auckland and travel north over the Auckland Harbour Bridge. We visit the Reed Memorial Park in Whangarei, featuring a magnificent elevated canopy walkway through a remnant kauri forest. Maturing kauri trees known to be at least 500 years old can be easily viewed close-up during our walk, whilst also taking in views of New Zealand’s native bush, meandering streams, and the Whangarei Falls – a picturesque waterfall that drops vertically for 26.3 metres over basalt rock cliffs.
From Whangarei, we continue north, reaching Paihia (the main town of the Bay of Islands), a stunning region of 144 secluded islands, peppered with natural wonders and marine life. Regarded as the birthplace of New Zealand as a bi-cultural nation, the Bay of Islands is rich in both Māori culture and early European history.
This morning, we enjoy a cruise out into the Bay, meandering around the idyllic beaches of the islands that make this area so popular. Continuing on to Cape Brett and the famous ‘Hole in the Rock’ where, conditions permitting, the boat travels slowly through before returning to the lovely seaside settlement of Russell which retains a quaint colonial charm. We return to Paihia by ferry at our leisure.
This afternoon can be enjoyed at leisure.
After a leisurely start to the morning, we depart the Bay of Islands and travel south. Following the Twin Coast Discovery Highway through Whangarei to Auckland City, we cross the Harbour Bridge. On arrival, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of the ‘City of Sails’, with panoramic city and harbour views from Bastion Point, trendy Parnell Village, the lovely bays of the waterfront drive and the vibrant Viaduct Harbour area. We also head to the Auckland Museum for a guided tour which gives an excellent introduction to the artistic legacy and cultures of the peoples of the Pacific; the monumental carvings, buildings, canoes and taonga (treasures) of the Māori; and the diversity of cultures which now combine to form the rich tapestry of race, nationality and creed that is modern New Zealand.
This morning, we depart Auckland and travel south through the southern suburbs of Auckland then over the Bombay Hills and through the lush Waikato Valley, famous for its highly productive dairy industry and on to the Waitomo Cave region. Enjoy a guided tour of the famous limestone caves including a boat ride on an underground river into the magnificent Glow-worm Grotto. We continue across the bush clad Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua, in the heart of New Zealand’s famous thermal region.
This morning, we visit the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa – the world leaders in kiwi husbandry, egg incubation systems, hatching techniques and kiwi chick rearing. Your visit here will showcase how Kiwi recovery programmes play their part to bring this treasured icon back from the brink of extinction on the New Zealand mainland.
Afterwards, we enjoy a Redwood Treewalk Day Walk located in Redwood Grove and consisting of 21 suspension bridges traversing between 22 Californian coastal redwoods that are 115-years old. The elevated walkways give us a unique view of the native undergrowth below from up to 12-metres above the ground. At 553-metres long, the walkway allows plenty of time to appreciate the beauty of the forest.
After some free time in the city, we visit Te Puia and the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Centre for a guided tour, followed by the Te Po (the night) experience – an immersive feast of indigenous cultural storytelling, entertainment and food. The guided tour provides a premier Māori culture experience, combined with an introduction to the magnificent geothermal activity in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. Whilst in the valley, we 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, depending on its mood.
After dinner, we enjoy a cultural performance, where highlights include waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant) poi and haka.
We depart Rotorua and travel via New Zealand’s largest pine tree forests to Taupo, stopping en- route at Huka Falls to marvel at the mighty Waikato River thundering through the narrow canyon. Continuing through the resort town of Taupo and around the shores of Lake Taupo which is New Zealand’s largest lake and a world-renowned trout fishery. We travel across the Rangitaiki Plains to Hawke’s Bay, and the seaside city of Napier. Napier was devastated by an earthquake in 1931 and was rebuilt during the period when Art Deco Architecture was fashionable. The area is also one of New Zealand’s top grape growing regions, with some of the country’s best-known wines coming from Hawke’s Bay.
This afternoon we have a 1.5 hour guided Art Deco Walking Tour. The tour will commence at the Art Deco Centre with a viewing of the 1931 Earthquake film, where you will hear of the devastation of the city and the stories of the people it left behind. Then we embark on a 1-hour walk with a professionally trained Art Deco Trust guide, who will bring Napier’s fascinating architectural history to life as we stroll through the compact Art Deco Quarter in the vibrant city centre.
Today we travel south by coach through Hastings and the Hawkes Bay sheep and cattle farming country to Woodville, before driving on through Wellington’s northern suburbs and into New Zealand’s capital city, built on the hills around a magnificent natural harbour.
This morning we depart for a sightseeing tour of Wellington. Highlights include visits to the Parliament Building, the Lady Norwood Rose Gardens, Mt. Victoria, Oriental Bay, Wellington Harbour, and Marine Parade. We ride the cable car to Kelburn to enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city and harbour.
Finishing the sightseeing tour with a visit Te Papa, the superb National Museum, we spend the remainder of the day at leisure to explore Wellington City.
Today we jump aboard a cruise though Wellington Harbour out onto the Cook Strait on the Interislander and through New Zealand’s only true sound – the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound into Picton. The bustling port of Picton is the terminal for inter-island ferries, and gateway to the ‘Mainland’ – the South Island’s self-proclaimed nickname.
After arriving in Picton and meeting our South Island driver, we board the coach and travel south along a thin ledge of land pinned between the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged ranges to Kaikoura, where the mountains meet the sea. From here, we travel south across the farmlands of the North Canterbury Plains, before arriving in Christchurch to soak up the sights of the ‘Garden City’ – also known as ‘the most English city outside of England’, en route to the accommodation in Christchurch.
From Christchurch, we traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Tranz-Alpine rail journey to Arthurs Pass. From our carriage, we will see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Our train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Crossing Southern Alps, into the village of Arthurs Pass where we will be met by the coach 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 – home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
While here, there is the option to take a 20 minute scenic helicopter flight to get up close, and touch the snow glacier of Franz Joseph.
Driving 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, we are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the Southwest 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, 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 Kawarau Gorge Road into Queenstown. Tonight is free for us to explore the local restaurants, cafes and bars.
Today is spent at leisure in Queenstown, with a variety of sightseeing activities available at an additional cost. Options include jet boating, guided walks, lake cruises on vintage steamer TSS Earnslaw, four-wheel-drive excursion focussing on film locations used in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, river rafting or if you dare – bungee jumping!
This evening, enjoy a taste of rural life in New Zealand. Steeped in Queenstown’s pioneering history, the experience commences with a cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard the 1912 vintage steamship – the TSS Earnslaw. We disembark at Walter Peak High Country Farm, one of the first farms set up in the region and still a working farm. In the ambience of the Colonel’s Homestead, we enjoy a delicious gourmet BBQ dinner which the chef will prepare in front of us. After dinner, enjoy an entertaining brief farm experience, including a sheep shearing demonstration. On the magical night-time cruise home, enjoy the camaraderie of a sing-along with the ship’s pianist or breathe in the fresh night air on the moonlit decks as we watch the lights of Queenstown draw nearer.
We depart early this morning and travel around Lake Wakatipu and through Te Anau and the Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park, part of the UNESCO Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. The scenery is spectacular, with lofty mountains and deep valleys carved out by Ice Age glaciers. There are clear rushing streams and leaping waterfalls set in magnificent native rainforest. We board a comfortable vessel for a scenic cruise down Milford Sound, past towering Mitre Peak to the Tasman Sea. Seals and dolphins are often seen in the clear waters of the fjord. A picnic lunch will served on board. Following the cruise, we board the coach to retrace your journey back to Te Anau, travelling via the Cleddeau Gorge, Homer Tunnel and the lovely Eglinton Valley.
Today we retrace our journey back to Queenstown Junction, calling into Arrowtown – a township with a colourful history set on the banks of the Arrow River. Many of the original sycamore trees, planted by the goldminers, cover the town’s cottages and stone buildings. In its heyday, Arrowtown was a rough and ready frontier town. There are many beautiful and interesting walks around this historical area or we may wish to visit some of the excellent art galleries, cafés or boutiques that now line the main street. From Arrowtown, we travel north through the rugged Kawarau Gorge to Cromwell in a popular stone-fruit growing area. Passing pretty Lake Dunstan and crossing the distinctive Central Otago countryside to the dramatic Lindis Pass which links Central Otago with the Mackenzie Basin, we arrive at Twizel in the late afternoon. Dinner will be served in the hotel restaurant tonight.
This morning we depart Twizel and drive along the shores of Lake Pukaki into Mt Cook National Park. At the heart of New Zealand’s most spectacular alpine region is Mt Cook, at 3754 metres the highest peak in Australasia. We can enjoy some time at Mt Cook Village.
Retracing our journey back along Lake Pukaki, we continue to Tekapo to see the magnificent blue waters of Lake Tekapo. Here, we also visit the Church of the Good Shepherd and the statue of the Collie dog, before travelling the vast Mackenzie Basin, over Burke’s Pass through Fairlie, Geraldine, Ashburton and across the Canterbury Plains into Christchurch.
This morning, we depart on a sightseeing tour of Christchurch City. Highlights include Cathedral Square, the River Avon and Hagley Park.
The remainder of the day can be enjoyed at leisure, with an all-day pass on the restored heritage Christchurch Tram included so we can enjoy a journey in style through the changing face of Christchurch’s city centre. Knowledgeable drivers will inform us about the city, its landmarks, and local sights. Our day-long ticket allows us to get on and off the tram as often as we please. The journey takes us to the appropriate stops for Punting on the Avon and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens Tour. Cathedral Junction, the Avon River, Gothic-style Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and New Regent Street are just some of sights to be seen from the comfort of the tram or accessed from the 17 stops en route. Board at any of the 17 Tram stops and get on and off with your ticket throughout the day. The Trams run every 15-20 minutes.
Tonight, we enjoy a farewell dinner at the Curators House, situated in a heritage building in the lovely Botanic Gardens. With its own kitchen garden, fresh regional produce is served, with a Spanish influence.
After breakfast, we will be transferred from the hotel to Christchurch Airport for our flight back home.
Today we arrive back in to the UK
We stay in comfortable hotels throughout as detailed below (or similar);
From Auckland Airport to the city, it is roughly around 25/30 minutes.
From the hotel in Christchurch to the Airport, it is roughly around 20 minutes.
Casual daytime light-weight “layers” are recommended. Comfortable shoes are a “must” for sightseeing. Smart, casual wear for the evenings. Dressing in layers to allow for changes in temperature is recommended as New Zealand can experience variable weather, so it is also advised to bring a waterproof jacket.
There is often confusion on the question of gratuities, since it frequently depends on the type of holiday, location and, of course, your attitude towards tipping, as to what is normally expected. To give you a rough idea, we have given appropriate guidance below.
The Tour Leader will be on hand to offer advice or suggestions if required but gratuities are offered entirely at the sole discretion of the individual. We suggest a group collection at the beginning of your holiday to cover drivers, guides, porters and hotel staff. Your Tour Leader will collect this on your behalf and distribute it accordingly, thus relieving you of the burden of who, when and how much to tip.
You do not need a visa to enter New Zealand if you are a visitor staying less than 6 months. You do need a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).
At New Zealand border control, you will also need to show that you meet the criteria for visa-free entry:
Check the full criteria on New Zealand Immigration.
If you are entering without a visa, you need a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before you travel. You will also need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy when you apply.
Allow up to 72 hours for it to be processed. Your NZeTA is valid for up to 2 years.
You should be in good health and able to walk moderate distances to fully participate and experience the sightseeing opportunities within the enclosed itinerary. You are required to acknowledge that you are of reasonable health and are considered to be fit to travel and are not travelling contrary to any medical advice. By acknowledging your health and fitness to participate, you are indemnifying us from all actions, claims and demands arising out of any lack of health and fitness.
New Zealand Dollar
“I’m sure you will enjoy it, I have been on three solos holidays to date and the people I’ve met have been great.”
“I’ve been travelling with Solos for nearly 20 years, on and off. The reason is for exactly what you want – you meet like minded people… and have loads of fun!”
“I’ve been on loads of trips with Solos over the years and can honestly say you will not regret booking your 1st one!”
“The feeling you have once you go away on your own is worth all the nerves before! I was so very anxious the first time but now having done it 4 times, I love it!”