New Zealand

An Antipodean travel company serving World Travellers since 1983

Crafted Tours for Mature World Travellers

New Zealand Tours

Small group tour of New Zealand's North island

Escorted 13 day small group tour of the East coast of New Zealand’s North island. Off the beaten track, for like minded people curious about history, culture, wine and landscapes. Your tour director and local guides share their knowledge with you the traveller on this New Zealand tour for senior travellers.

13 days
Departing Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar

New Zealand: An Odyssey Down Under

 A guided small group tour of both the North island and the South island . Your travel itinerary includes Auckland , Rotorua , Milford Sound , Queenstown and Christchurch . Maori culture also forms part of the journey to provide a memorable New Zealand tour experience.

14 days
Departing Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Jan, Mar

Small group walking tour of New Zealand

Escorted 14 day small group walking tour of New Zealand.  Off the beaten track, for hiking fit like minded people curious about history, culture wine and landscapes.  For mature couples and solo travellers, walk tracks from the Bay of Islands to Stewart Island.

14 days
Departing Sep, Oct, Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar

Articles

Aerial view of Wellington Cit

Wellington, New Zealand

3 mins readNew Zealand

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand, and the administrative centre of Wellington region, located on the south part of the North Island between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range.

Queenstown, Otago, New Zealand

Queenstown, New Zealand

2 mins readNew Zealand

Queenstown is a resort town on the South Island of New Zealand. Built on the lakeshore of Lake Wakatipu, the town provides amazing views having the Remarkables Mountain Range as its background.

Walk in the Wild.

There are just 5.0 million New Zealanders, scattered across 268,021 sq. km: bigger than the UK with one-fourteenth of the population. Filling in the gaps are the sublime forests, mountains, lakes, beaches and fiords that have made NZ one of the best hike (locals call it ‘tramping’) destinations on the planet. Tackle one of the epic ‘Great Walks’ – you might’ve heard of the Heaphy and Milford Tracks – or the Tongariro crossing located in the centre of New Zealand’s North island, spend a few hours wandering along a beautiful beach, paddling a canoe or cycling through some easily accessible wilderness. Odyssey offers New Zealand walking tours seniors paced that maybe a full on walking tour for the day or a guided walk consisting of a couple of short walk escorted tour. The pace and duration varies to reflect the overall group fitness level.

Māori Culture

New Zealand’s all-conquering All Blacks would never have become back-to-back rugby world champions without their unstoppable Māori players. But this is just one example of how Maori culture impresses itself on contemporary Kiwi life: across NZ you can hear Maori language, watch Māori TV, join in a hāngi (Māori feast) or catch a cultural performance with song, dance and a blood-curdling haka (war dance). Māori design continues to find expression in tā moko, Māori tattooing (often applied to the face) and the delicate artistry of bone, shell and pounamu (greenstone) sculpture. Maori culture has enjoyed a growing awareness for some decades.

It is safe to explore and enjoy.

New Zealand isn’t a place where you encounter many on-the-road frustrations: buses and trains generally run on time; main roads are in good care; ATMs proliferate; pickpockets, scam merchants and bedbug-ridden hotels are few and far between. And there are no snakes, and only one poisonous spider – the endangered katipo. This decent nation is a place where you can relax and enjoy (rather than endure) your travels. Odyssey’s New Zealand tours packages seek to reflect the relaxed charm that prevails in a New Zealand trip.

Food, Wine & Beer

British-influenced classics like fish and chips aren’t going anywhere, but NZ gastronomy has come a long way. Chefs and the restaurants and cafes they work in across the country whether in Auckland, Wellington, Napier, Christchurch or Queenstown borrow influences from as far afield as South Pacific islands and Europe for creative takes on locally sourced lamb and seafood like abalone, oysters and scallops. Meanwhile, the vegetarian and vegan food scenes grow evermore prominent and inventive. Wash it all down with coffee culture, an edgy craft-beer scene and legendary cool-climate wines (like sublime sauvignon blanc and pinot noir).

New Zealand Travel guide

Both the New Zealand’s North Island and New Zealand’s South Island are full of spectacular scenery, can’t miss sights, we would suggest though;

 

  • Auckland; City of sails
  • The Bay of islands; early history  of NZ.
  • The Hawke’s bay; find your wine
  • Tongariro National Park; UNESCO site
  • Abel Tasman National Park
  • The Franz Josef Glacier
  • Queenstown
  • Milford sound UNESCO site..

Cities and towns are rich in history, with interesting, unique attractions and museums, lovely cafes and restaurants with helpful and friendly locals. And on top of that we all know mother nature in New Zealand is just as important, that is why visiting the national park (s), mountains, lakes, forests, beaches, and bays for there stunning scenery are on the bucket lists as well. Odyssey has coach tours of New Zealand for seniors to enjoy as an inspiring journey for a holiday .

 

Most tours of New Zealand start or finish in Auckland. The City of Sails, famous for its two harbours, Manukau and the Hauraki gulf, the nearby islands and the volcanic activity that formed the area’s topography is the most populous city of New Zealand and a buzzing multicultural hub driving the country’s economy. Auckland‘s inner city beaches are beautiful bays to explore or take the ferry to Waiheke island, whilst on the west coast is the wild beach of Piha.

Further north the Bay of Islands is a sub-tropical region, known for the Winterless North. The region encompasses 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula. You can visit the lovely towns of Paihia, Russel and Kerikeri, stand on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds or take a day trip to Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand.

On the east coast of the North Island wine lovers should definitely pay a visit to Hawke’s Bay. Nicknamed as Wine Country, Hawke’s Bay is the first stop of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail offering 30+ cellars and some 200 kilometres of easy biking trails connecting them. It is also known as New Zealand’s Art Deco capital with cities such as Napier. Lovers of a good hike should have the Te Mata peak as a day tour on their itinerary.

Still on the North Island, the Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park of the country and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. The park encompasses several volcanic mountains, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro, sacred Maori places and the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, regard as one of the greatest one-day hikes in the world.

For the South Island travelling down the wild west coast is an absolute must, the spectacular scenery on this rugged coastline of New Zealand’s south island is a must see.

 

You can start with the Abel Tasman National Park (named after the 17th century Dutch explorer Abel Tasman who was the first European to reach New Zealand), the smallest national park of the country. It is an easily accessible coastal paradise, dramatic scenery, with plenty of options to explore the sand beaches and hiking tracks. Kayaking one way and taking a hike back is one of the most popular choice by visitors.

Travelling further south, the little town of Franz Josef (named after the then emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) is the ideal base to explore the west coast glacier, Franz Josef Glacier and/or the Fox Glacier. Unfortunately as the glacier retreat they are becoming less and less accessible on foot but you can still take a scenic flight over the landscape, or be more adventurous and get dropped on Franz Josef glacier with a professional guide for a unique hike back.

 

Queenstown is often called the adventure capital of the world. The town is located on the lakeshore of Lake Wakatipuwith the spectacular scenery of the Remarkables in the background. It is a great base to explore the Central Otago wine region, nearby historic towns such as Arrowtown, and of course a Milford Sound cruise, the key highlight of the Fjordland National Park.

Milford Sound is located in the UNESCO World Heritage site Fiordland National Park, approximately 4 hours from Queenstown and 2 hours from Te Anau , the nearest inhabited town. At Milford sound the Southern Alps finally collapse into the Tasman Sea, creating a dramatic and beautiful scenery, best enjoyed on a milford sound cruise.

You may wish to read this article “Questions about New Zealand” as well.

 

The easiest way to get around in New Zealand is using your own vehicle, providing access even to the most remote areas of the country.

On our small group tours of New Zealand for seniors we use coaches and occasionally local transport such as buses within a city or ferry services.

Even though New Zealand is a huge country with low population density, long-distance buses are widely available among bigger cities and popular tourist destinations. Train services are more limited but where available, it is definitely a scenic way of getting around. Such example is the Tranzalpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth. And if you are in a hurry, you can always use domestic flights to hop around key destinations.

Driving around yourself also has the advantage of giving you the opportunity to wonder off the beaten track anywhere in the country. While the places listed below are not exactly unknown, they are certainly less exposed to tourists.

Waikawau beach tunnel

Waikawau is a small community in the Waitomo district of the North Island. It has the only publicly accessible beach between Marokopa and Awakino via a tunnel which was completed in 1911 by local farmers. The tunnel was originally built by three local farmers to drive their cattle on the beach to the nearby station rather than the rough terrain.

Mine bay Maori rock carvings

This giant carving of Ngatoroirangi is considered to be one of the best contemporary Maori artworks. Master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell was asked by his grandmother to carve the tattooed face of their ancestor to create a connection of the family to the land. In 1976 the young carver had a vision while paddling on the water, and it took him 4 summers to complete this extraordinary piece of art. The carvings are towering 14 metres above Lake Taupo on the North Island and displaying the traditional Maori knowledge and skills passed down by each generation. This icon of the region can only be reached by boat, and can be best viewed from a kayak.

Pancake rocks

Punakaiki is a small village located between Westport and Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island. And just outside of the main village you will find the amazing pancake rocks and blowholes, the curious limestone formations which are over 30 million years in the making. You can see the rocks during an easy, accessible walk. It is recommended to wear something you don’t mind getting wet, as during the high tide, the Tasman sea forces large amounts of water and compressed air to race upward creating geyser like ‘eruptions’ across the holes and pools.

Blue Pools

Stop here while navigating through the scenic Haast Pass which brings you from the West Coast through the dramatic scenery of the Southern alps on your coach tour to Wanaka on the South Island. Near the small village of Makarora you can take an easy walk to the beautiful turquoise waters of the Blue Pools, which colour is the result of light refraction on the clear and icy cold water. Blue Pools is where Blue River joins the Makarora River, and after checking it is safe to do so, you can take a leap into the pools from the two suspension bridges. Makarora is also a starting point for several hikes in the Mount Aspiring National Park.

Lake Quill

This one is not easy to reach but well worth the effort. Lake Quill is on the South Island in Fiordland National Park, near Milford Sound. The lake is fed by several glaciers and falls under in three cascades as Sutherland Falls, which was long thought to be the tallest waterfall of New Zealand at 580 meters. The falls can be seen from Milford Track, the popular multi-day hike, or you can take a scenic flight over the national park to enjoy the untouched beauty of the lake.

Best time to tour New Zealand

The answer really depends on your preferences – what do you want to see and do, would you like to avoid peak season, etc.

Summer in New Zealand is from December to February and has the best overall weather, and all outdoor activities (such as world-famous multi day hikes, flights, water sports, etc) are operating. Yet, New Zealand is also famous for having four seasons in one day, so make sure you’re well prepared with layered clothing even during the hottest days. This is also the peak season for both domestic and international tourism, so you have to book in advance to avoid the disappointment of missing out on anything.

Fall is from March to May, and it is the time for spectacular colours, New Zealand’s south island especially around Wanaka and the Otago region is .  Any time after Easter is usually the most quiet time of the year to travel so you can enjoy most of the attractions in peace in fairly good weather.This is a good season to enjoy a New Zealand walking tours seniors itinerary from Odyssey.

Winter is from June to August and it’s time for winter sport season. Luckily the temperatures only get cold in the mountains, and in general you can enjoy many days with clear skies. Ski season runs from June until early October in the South island,  for those who have Southern Hemisphere skiing on their bucket list. Some of the tracks to hike are closed for security reasons. On the positive side, there is very little traffic on the roads and only the heaviest snow falling would result in a few days of snow in the lowlands, which is rare.

Spring is from September to November, and many say you get the best of all words if you visit during that time. Mountains look majestic with their snowcaps on, you can catch the last weeks of the ski season, while this is the wildest season for any water sport, especially rafting as the melting snow speeds up the rivers and falls. This is also the time for garden lowers as flowers and leaves are blossoming across the country.

How does time of the year affect the weather and travel conditions in New Zealand?

In general the weather in New Zealand is fairly mild all year around with many hours of sunshine due to the proximity of the mountains and sea across all islands. The far north is considered subtropical (earning the nickname of ‘Winterless North’), while the inland alpine areas of the South Island can get as cold as -10 degrees Celsius in winter.

You should be aware that torrential rain falls can cause floods and result in roads closures especially on the South Island among the ranges of the Southern Alps all year round.

Due to the temperature difference of the mountains and valleys, some mornings will be foggy but it can clear very quickly. In general weather conditions can change in a minute across the country, so always be cautious, adhere to rules and be up to date with travel information.

In general roads are in great condition and maintained regularly. The biggest threat is probably self-driving international travellers who might be unfamiliar with driving on the right hand side, so you might want to avoid the peak season because of them.

In general the weather in New Zealand is fairly mild all year around with many hours of sunshine due to the proximity of the mountains and sea across both the North Island and  South Island. The far north is considered subtropical (earning the nickname of ‘Winterless North’), while the inland alpine areas of the South Island can get as cold as -10 degrees Celsius in winter.

You should be aware that torrential rain falls can cause floods and result in roads closures especially on the South Island among the ranges of the Southern Alps all year round.

Due to the temperature difference of the mountains and valleys, some mornings will be foggy but it can clear very quickly. In general weather conditions can change in a minute across the country, so always be cautious, adhere to rules and be up to date with travel information.

In general roads are in great condition and maintained regularly. The biggest threat is probably self-driving international travellers who might be unfamiliar with driving on the right hand side, so you might want to avoid the peak season because of them.

Main factors are your own preferences for activities, weather conditions (see above), number of other visitors and pricing. Since the country offers a lot to visitors all year around, prices tend to be stable with no off season drops. Interislander ferries, bus services and domestic flights operate all year round.

Tours of New Zealand

Escorted tours to New Zealand typically travellers can visit both islands during one trip and the itinerary in our New Zealand tour package reflects this. Key stops on these New Zealand small group tours itineraries are usually Auckland , Rotorua, Milford Sound , Queenstown and Christchurch . Odyssey Traveller offers New Zealand coach tours seniors enjoy. A group tour package which takes senior travellers around New Zealand in 14 days and offers them a chance to learn about history, culture and experience the landscapes settings and breathtaking scenery as well as see the unique wildlife using the expertise and knowledge of local guides. These new Zealand tours packages are a popular New Zealand escorted tour for seniors.

Odyssey’ s small group Tour of the North Island only takes travellers off the beaten track. The North Island tour starts in Auckland before travelling down the east coast through the Coromandel peninsula , Hawke’s Bay, The Wairarapa and finishes in Wellington in 13 days. Senior travellers can travel with like-minded people and learn about the landscape and wines with local guides.

Of the two islands the South Islands is regarded as an inspiring journey offering the more dramatic scenery with the Southern Alpes, Aorangi/Mt Cook, Milford Sound , Franz Josef Glacier and more. Odyssey Traveller ’s 15-day long South Island tour starts in Wellington before we take the interislander ferry and stop at Nelson, Westport, Fox Glacier , Wanaka, Te Anau , Invercargill, Dunedin and Christchurch .

Odyssey Traveller ’s tours of New Zealand for seniors that travllers seek to book is the New Zealand holiday where travelers visit the key highlights of both islands in a small group . With the help of the local guides seniors can learn about new aspects of the history and culture of New Zealand, even if they have visited the country before.

Doing only one of the islands has the advantage of travelling less and going further off the beaten track, with more time to explore hidden gems and learn about a specific region. Odyssey has North Island New Zealand tours and South IslandNew Zealand tours for travellers.

The need to know

Touring New Zealand

Getting around

Odyssey traveller offers escorted coach tours of New Zealand and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Bus services are widely available, with long-distance buses and shuttle buses providing services across the country. The train services are somewhat more limited in terms of transportation coverage, though remain a comfortable and very scenic way of getting around New Zealand.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour guides

An Odyssey New Zealand escorted tour always has a tour director and always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, Environment, & Weather

New Zealand covers an area of 267,710 square km, and comprises around 600 islands, the two largest of which are the North Island and South Island. New Zealand’s North Island is split by mountain ranges that run through the middle of the island, with rolling hills and farmlands on either side. while New Zealand South Island is dominated by the Southern Alps. New Zealand has over 15,000 km of coastline, which is indented by numerous harbours and fjords.

New Zealand has a largely temperate climate, with mild summers and cool to cold winters. Depending on when you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.

World heritage sites

There are 3 properties in New Zealand listed on the World Heritage List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/nz). New Zealand’s listed properties include:

New Zealand Sub-Antarctic Islands, containing an abundance and diversity of bird species, including 40 seabird species

Te Wahipounamu, featuring fiords, lakes and waterfalls, and home to a rich array of native flora and fauna

Tongariro National Park, the mountains of which are of cultural and religious significance to the Maori people.

Festivals & Events

Numerous festivals and events dot the calendar in New Zealand. One of the most important events of the year in New Zealand is Matariki, Maori New Year. Held in mid-June, Matariki is a celebration of Maori traditions and culture, with art exhibitions, musical events, workshops and haka performances all staged across the country. For aviation enthusiasts, Warbirds Over Wanaka is not to be missed – held over four days in April, Warbirds Over Wanaka features a wide range of aircraft and thrilling aerial display. New Zealand’s small towns play host to many quirky events such as the Art Deco Weeekend in Napier, wherepon the entire town is decorated and themed in the Art Deco style.

Reading list

The Penguin History of New Zealand, by Michael King
Tuai: A Traveller in Two Worlds, by Alison Jones and Kuni Jenkins
A Sort of Conscience, by Philip Temple
Pounamu, pounamu, by Witi Ihimaera

Eating & Drinking

New Zealand cuisine features Maori and British influences, and sources the rich produce of the country’s fields and waters. Seafood is abundant in New Zealand and widely popular, with lobsters, mussels, and whitebait fritters all staples of New Zealand cuisine. The traditions of Maori cooking live on through dishes such as hāngī, which involves meat and vegetables slow-cooked in an underground oven. British settlement in New Zealand left their mark on New Zealand cuisine in the form of homely dishes such as roast lamb and fish and chips. If you’re in the mood for something sweeter, you can always try tucking into a slice of pavlova – although Australians will swear it’s an Australian dish, New Zealanders proudly claim ownership of this dessert, which is a meringue-based cake topped with fruit and whipped cream.

New Zealand has a thriving wine industry, with Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir amongst the most prominent wine varieties produced in New Zealand. The country also has a healthy beer-brewing industry, with breweries to be found across the country

Health & Safety

Generally speaking, New Zealand is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.

Electrical Supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply in New Zealand runs at 230V and 50Hz. New Zealand uses the Type I electric plug, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.

FAQs

New Zealand has a single time zone, New Zealand Standard Time (UTC+12). Daylight savings in New Zealand commence on the last Sunday of September, and conclude on the first Sunday of April.

If you’re on an Odyssey New Zealand escorted tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not common in New Zealand, with service charges often included in bills. Tour guides and hotel staff are a general exception however, with a small tip of a few dollars not going astray in showing appreciation for their services.

Wifi is widely available in New Zealand, and should be freely accessible in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in New Zealand. Many providers will allow you to pay a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.

Responsible travel tips for New Zealand

  • Before departing on your New Zealand holiday, make sure you have a number of NZ dollars in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

  • Carry a card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.

  • Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.

  • Before departing, make sure you have a number of NZD in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

  • When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.

  • Before departing on your New Zealand holiday , contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.

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