Heart & Soul of Maori Itinerary« Back to Trip Overview
Day 1 Mar 2 (-/L/D): Auckland to Rotorua
Welcome to New Zealand! We head south to Rotorua, a cultural centre for Maoridom and an active volcanic region. Here, we visit the Rotorua Museum, housed in the historic Bath House where visitors came over a century ago to “take the cures” in the mineral waters. After an educational and entertaining film about the region, those who wish to test the healing theories of the water can head to Rotorua’s modern spa facility for a soak in its thermal pools.
Late this afternoon, we are welcomed as guests at a Maori meeting house, or marae, for a fascinating insight into Maori culture. After being welcomed and learning about marae protocols, we sample both traditional and modern Maori fare. Prior to retiring to our shared sleeping quarters or whare puni for the evening, we spend time with our guide listening to ancient myths and legends.
Day 2 Mar 3 (B/L/D): Marae Stay Experience
The day is spent on the marae, taking part in interactive workshops covering the following: History of Maori, migration and arrival to New Zealand | Maori arts and crafts | Storytelling, Myths & Legends | Spiritual education | Kaitiakitanga (Guardianship & Maori Gods) | Wairuatanga (Spiritual beliefs & understanding) | Whanaungatanga (Genealogy & strength of family) | Henengaro (Intellectual Awareness) | Tinana (Physical Wellbeing).
There is free time in the afternoon for your own spiritual reflection before coming together again for dinner and further story telling and questions before retiring for the night.
Day 3 Mar 4 (B/L/D): Rotorua to Christchurch
After tidying our sleeping area and having our last breakfast on the marae, we depart and journey south to Lake Taupo, pausing to view the mighty Huka Falls. Once at the lake, we depart on a special kayaking experience past steep cliffs and small inlets that can only harbor a kayak before we sight the 10 meter high rock carvings. Your guide will explain the carvings cultural significance to the lake and surrounding areas while you float beneath them. We head for the airport and take our early evening flight to Christchurch.
Day 4 Mar 5 (B/L/D): Christchurch to to Kaikoura
We depart Christchurch and travel north up the coast to the seaside hamlet of Kaikoura, New Zealand’s marine-life center. Perhaps the most famous Kaikoura residents are the sperm whales and a late morning flight offers the unique opportunity of viewing these gentle leviathans from above. From this perspective, one can appreciate the whale’s size, as well as the vastness of its feeding ground.
This afternoon we take a spectacular hike around the Kaikoura peninsula, a dominant feature in the region’s landscape. The hike offers magnificent views of the surrounding sea and mountains as it winds past intriguing limestone formations and fur seals lounging on the rocks. Kaikoura means “to eat crayfish (lobster)” in Maori, and tonight is a chance to sample the local specialty.
Day 5 Mar 6 (B/L/D): Marine-life Encounters
Today, we’ll have the chance to behold more of Kaikoura’s tremendous creatures in their natural habitat. In the morning those feeling adventurous can don wetsuits and snorkel gear for an up-close encounter with Kaikoura’s playful dolphins. Other optional activities are also available.
Day 6 Mar 7 (B/L/D): Kaikoura to Queenstown
Departing Kaikoura, we journey south to Christchurch, where we take a flight down to Queenstown. Our accommodation, resting on the shores of lovely Lake Wakatipu and flanked by The Remarkables, is a stunning setting in which to base ourselves for the next four days. Enjoy some relaxation time this afternoon or head into the hills for an exhilarating hike.
Day 7 Mar 8 (B/L/D): Scenic River Safari
This morning, we take a daytrip along the shore of Lake Wakatipu to a tiny, secluded settlement at its northern tip, backed by the spectacular ranges of the Mt. Aspiring National Park. This is Middle-earth country at its best and it is easy to see why this breathtaking location was chosen for use in The Lord of the Rings.
Here, we catch a jet boat for a scenic safari up the beautiful Dart River valley. Upriver, we disembark and board inflatable canoes for a leisurely paddle back, via the awesome Rock Burn Chasm. Ice-blue waters carry us between the sheer rock walls of this narrow chasm, accessible only by canoe and, therefore, seen by only a lucky few. Pulling our canoes up onto the shore of Paradise, we return to Queenstown for another comfortable night’s stay and our farewell dinner at one of the town’s many fine restaurants.
Day 8 Mar 9 (B/-/-): Queenstown Exploration
Queenstown is New Zealand’s adrenalin center. Before the gold rush of adventure tourism, this was a true gold rush region 140 years ago, reminiscent of America’s Wild West. Because there are so many things to do in Queenstown to cater to your diverse interests, we have left the day free for you to pick and choose whatever optional activities you desire, be they whitewater rafting, horse-trekking, or more leisurely pursuits such as walking and wine trails. For that reason, lunch and dinner are on your own this day.
Day 9 Mar 10 (B/-/-): Homeward Bound
On our final morning, depending on your flight schedule, you’ll have time to relax, make final purchases, and even reconsider that bungy jump before traveling home or to your next destination. We’re confident you’ll leave New Zealand with memories and friendships that will enrich your life for years to come.