Take a journey through the culturally rich New Zealand. A landscape so majestic it was decided The Lord of the Rings would be filmed there, and you’ll see why. In this beautiful gay cultural tour of New Zealand, you’ll see towering mountains, beautiful life cycles of penguins and albatross, inspiring architecture and enjoy delicious wines. See what it’s like to witness some of the amazing views from a vintage 1912 steamship, the TSS Earnslaw!
In this gay New Zealand Tour, we fit in the most enjoyable cultural experiences around. We will start our journey with an elite yachting regatta and jump right into the delectable world of New Zealand wine tasting. We will go deep underground where the walls glow brightly as well as discover hidden waterfalls. Join us as we explore a volcanic crater and ask a chief for entry into a culturally rich village. Witness the life cycles of two very different birds, the blue penguin, and the albatross. Ride in a vintage 1912 steamship with its original engine exposed. All of this while soaking in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world!
After we touch down in Auckland and get settled in our hotel, we are off to the races! Today enjoy a unique opportunity to participate in America’s Cup Sailing Experience. The America Cup is the world’s oldest sporting trophy, a truly elite yachting regatta. This is our chance to take the helm of one of their Grand Prix racers and really feel like part of the action. Alternatively, you can sit back and enjoy the ride down the Auckland harbor.
This evening, enjoy a nice walk to a local restaurant where we will enjoy a three-course meal for our Welcome dinner.
Today we head to the Downtown Auckland Ferry Terminal to go on a lovely 40-minute cruise to Waiheke Island through the picturesque Hauraki Gulf. Waiheke Island has over 92 square kilometers of beautiful beaches, vineyards, olive groves, native bush and relaxing seaside villages. Upon arrival, we will be met by a local island tour guide who will provide entertaining and interesting commentary throughout our stay.
We will visit an award-winning olive oil mill and two vineyards where we’ll enjoy samples that include freshly caught oysters from Te Matuku Bay, green herb spread, artisan cheeses, and wild honey.
Today we head off to Waitomo where we will visit the Ruakuri Cave, the longest cave in the Waitomo area. The cave was first discovered by a local over 400 years ago. It’s named “Ruakuri”, or “den of dogs” because it was discovered that wild dogs had taken residence in the cave. After going down a grand spiral pathway, you’ll find a highly dynamic environment with interesting limestone formations, underground rivers, hidden waterfalls, and dazzling glowworms shows throughout.
After grabbing lunch at a local cafe, we will continue our journey to Rotorua and settle into our hotel. The rest of the day will be free for your own leisure. Enjoy some time at The Polynesia Spa with an open voucher. There are 27 mineral pools fed by two natural springs that claim to nourish the skin and calm tired and aching muscles. There are also three marble-lined pools fed by the Rachel Spring, said to bless bathers with ageless beauty.
Today we’ll enjoy a walking tour along the pathways of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley Crater. The walk is mostly downhill and flat and passes by all the geothermal features that make the valley famous. The afternoon will be free for rest and leisure.
In the evening we will experience the culture of the indigenous Maori villagers. As we approach the village, the Maori chief will greet us and determine if we are approaching them with good intentions. Once we’ve been invited in, we will experience a traditional welcome song, watch customary performances and authentic customs. Later, enjoy a delicious meal from their earth oven while locals entertain us with stories. The evening will wrap up by the Pohutu geyser while we enjoy indigenous delicacies and hot drinks.
The drive from Wellington Airport to our hotel will include a sightseeing tour along the way. This will give us a chance to learn a bit about Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Along the way, we will tour the New Zealand Parliament Buildings, including the Beehive which houses the Executive Wing. We’ll then witness the Saint Paul’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Dunedin. Then off to wander the 25 hectares of the Wellington Botanical Gardens. We’ll be free to take in the lush, green foliage and marvel at the large sculptures and carving throughout. Once we’ve transferred to our hotel, we’ll be free to spend the rest of the day at our own leisure.
This morning our driver will pick us up to check out the Wellington art scene, everyone is sure to find something magnificent in New Zealand’s vibrant art-rich districts. Then we will make our way to Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum for a unique tour that will tell us the story of the Māori people through objects. This tour, not open to the public, will take us behind the scenes to see artifacts up close. This will give us a unique opportunity to engage directly with museum staff. Afterward, we will have some light reflections while musing about the collection before returning to our hotel.
Upon arrival in Dunedin and after settling in, we will soak in the city sights and check out the Otago Peninsula. The area is home to various species of wildlife and home to many seabirds, including penguins and pinnipeds.
After lunch, we’ll go on an Albatross Tour. This will include an interesting talk, DVD, and views from the Richdale Observatory. We will encounter interesting displays regarding albatross parents and chicks. Nowhere else in the world are we able to get such an intimate view of the home and life cycle of these majestic birds.
After our Albatross Tour, we will head over to the Taiaroa Head to visit the Little Blue Penguin colony. Starting out with an interesting story about the cultural significance of Pukekura, then enter the conservation area to view the Little Blue Penguins. They are the smallest and most would agree the cutest penguins in the world. Watch them scurry around as penguins do after a hard day’s work out at sea. The conservationists work hard to keep the colony predator-free, so the next generation of penguins can flourish.
Today we’ll be traveling from Dunedin to Te Anau. We will stop along the way at a local café for lunch at your leisure in the small community that has a heritage and aviation precinct. This afternoon there will be a jet boat tour for those who are interested. Otherwise, the rest of the day is at your leisure to explore and enjoy the fabulous views of Lake Te Anau and the mountains of Fiordland National Park.
Today we’ll be taking a private vehicle to Milford Sound for a leisurely cruise among its towering peaks. Once we arrive at our destination we will have a delicious picnic lunch and then all aboard!
During the cruise, we will stop and enjoy some points of interests, including a variety of waterfalls and stunning rainforest. Keep your eye out for the bustling wildlife in this area. This evening you will be free to explore Te Anau.
We have a beautiful drive from Te Anau to the Queenstown area, known for both its alpine beauty and adrenaline adventure. Along the way we will visit many of those sights, including breathtaking views of glacial lakes and jagged peaks, a visit to the first bungy in the world, time to enjoy the gold-digging heritage of quaint Arrowtown, and a special visit to learn about the area’s ideal location for wine-making, including tastings and a vintner’s gourmet lunch spread. Afterward, we will arrive in Queenstown with long vistas across glacial Lake Wakatipu. Our boutique hotel is centrally located so that you can easily wander and appreciate this sparkling little city.
Today we will enjoy a 40-minute cruise on the TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak. TSS Earnslaw is a famous vintage 1912 twin steamer with a rich history itself. It will take us past the beautiful Cecil and Walter Peaks for a spectacular view of the Lake Wakatipu shores. Check out the original steam engines from the viewing area as the TSS Earnslaw puffs its way to Walter Peak. Sit back and relax as we listen to the entertainment of the onboard pianist. Also, take the time to tour the vessels Fo’c’le gallery and its historic displays.
Afterward, we will enjoy a High-Country Farm Tour where we will see firsthand what farming life is like in the area. Enjoy the farm animals, including sheep, red deer, and Scottish Highland cattle. If we are lucky, we can see farmers sheering sheep and sheepdogs tending to their stock.
Following the farmyard tour, there will be time to shop, view a wool spinning demonstration or wander the beautiful lakeside gardens before heading back to Queenstown on the TSS Earnslaw.
Today is the day we say goodbye to this beautiful country. We’ll be collected from our hotel and transferred to Queenstown Airport.
Price includes: Airport transfers on arrival and departure days; Airfare during the tour from Rotorua to Wellington and Wellington to Dunedin; Lodging in deluxe hotel rooms in double occupancy, with private bath; including hotel service charges, and government taxes; All breakfasts, 5 lunches, and 5 dinners; All activities mentioned in the itinerary; Gratuities for porterage and included meals. Services of knowledgeable, local guides and the services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants); HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare to and from starting and ending points; Gratuities for guides, HE host, and hotel staff; Personal items including alcoholic beverages, snack, laundry, and telephone calls.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1800 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
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Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.
For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
This tour starts in Auckland and ends in Queenstown.
To fully enjoy this tour you need to be able to walk around unevenly paved ancient sites for 1-4 hours each day; be comfortable on a ferry for a few hours; enjoy the beautiful scenery.
We will be staying at a variety of hotels along the way. We have selected luxurious boutique hotels when possible, which have great locations in each city.
For answers to your additional questions, please email email@example.com or call 305-294-8174