New Zealand Small Group Tour
This New Zealand small group tour will guide travellers through the history of the country. The arrival of the European in New Zealand set in motion a startling and ultimately largely successful co-existence that we will see and experience in this study tour. Aside from the resident peoples the European immigrants had to come to terms with fiercely disparate environments and climates ranging from the arid desert to the tropical. This is the path we follow on this tour as we track the Maori people from the dawn of history to the present time. Similarly we chart the trajectory of the European arrivals from the horrors of the convict Transportation era to the grandeur and prosperity so evident in Australasia today.
Odyssey has been bringing people to New Zealand since 1983, we have more than 30 years of experience in providing you with a amazing educational tour in groups of less than 15 people.
Highlights of our New Zealand Small Group Tour
During this tour travellers will have the experience of meeting Maori people and learning about their history and culture before and after the arrival of Europeans. Of course this 11-day tour will take travellers to the most iconic sites of the country. Our key stops are Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, and Christchurch.
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About Odyssey Traveller
We specialise in educational small group tours for seniors, typically groups between six to 12 people from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and Britain. Our maximum number of people on a tour is 18 mature aged travellers.We have some 150 tours and offer 300 scheduled departures on offer each year. Odyssey has been offering this style of adventure and educational programs since 1983.
Odyssey Traveller is committed to charitable activities that support the environment and cultural development of Australian and New Zealand communities.
Odyssey Traveller scholarship for Australia & New Zealand University students.
We are also pleased to announce that since 2012, Odyssey has been awarding $10,000 Equity & Merit Cash Scholarships each year. We award scholarships on the basis of academic performance and demonstrated financial need. We award at least one scholarship per year. We’re supported through our educational travel programs, and your participation helps Odyssey achieve its goals. Students can apply for the scholarship by clicking on this link to find out more details.
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Every International small group tour taken typically contributes to your membership level in our Loyalty Program for regular travellers. Membership of the alumni starts when you choose to take your first international small group tour with Odyssey Traveller, discounts in tour pricing for direct bookings accrue from your third tour with Odyssey Traveller. To see the discounts and benefits of being a Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond alumni member with us, please see this page.
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Overview: Auckland, like Rome, is built on a series of hills, extinct volcanoes.. We arrive in the evening and will have the time to look out from these hills and we see the largest volcanic presence within the city limits which is Rangitoto Island, whose symmetrical form is emblematic of New Zealand’s largest city which is also now acknowledged as the capital of Oceania. Dinner in our hotel this night in the skyline restaurant will confirm our panoramic impressions, as will our specialist commentator who will give us a tour d’horizon of Auckland’s origins as a Maori centre and of its thrilling colonial development as New Zealand’s great merchant city.
Overview: Auckland straddles New Zealand’s northern isthmus and consequently ferry travel between its numerous islands is part of daily life and the ferries ply to and forth from the heart of downtown Auckland. Today we cruise this shimmering archipelago aboard our own ocean yacht and we embark at the Viaduct Basin, the restored harbour area dating from the era of sail which is renowned as the hub of the New Zealand much later venture into sail, the challenge for the Americas Cup. We will disembark in time for lunch at Auckland’s verdant Eden Garden and inspect aspects of the flora that flourish in these latitudes.
In the afternoon we visit Auckland’s extensive inner city parkland in which there is the War Memorial Museum with its lavish displays of Polynesian and colonial artefacts and presentations of Auckland past, present, and future.
From this vantage point, tour members, should they wish will have the opportunity to walk back into the city and to our hotel threading their way through the bustling side streets of the city with their infinite variety of shops and markets.
Overview: An academic outlook of the city, its geology, and climate and how the various settler waves coped with these is followed by a field study trip of the coastline of the extended metropolis. No other English-speaking conurbation has such a deeply indented shoreline. Neither is there anything that can match Auckland’s laid-bare volcanic geology which will become so evident to us as we inspect its many golden-sanded beaches and limpid lakes.
Overview: Waitomo and its caves. The glow worm, arachnocampa luminosa, is unique to New Zealand and we inspect this phenomenon very closely as we glide through by boat this immense cave system with its natural light show. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as our expert guides provide informative commentary on the caves’ historical and geological significance.
The King Country. As we make our way through this region we pass through New Zealand’s King Country so called because it is the historic seat of the Maori monarchical movement which continues to this day with the movement’s royal seat at Ngaruawahia. This will be of great interest to students of anthropology and will provide tour members with an extraordinary insight into a living and influential exalted hierarchy.
Rotorua, heart of New Zealand’s Thermal Wonderland. We view the bubbling hot pools and the gushing geysers, feeling the ground shaking under our feet. This is too the heart of Maori culture and we will view them in the setting and see for ourselves how for generations they used the thermal activity to their great advantage in cooking and heating.
Overview: The Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley at Rotorua was once known as Mt Tarawera and famous for its Pink and White Terraces formed by thermal processes and often described as the Eighth Wonder of the World. The volcanic eruption of 1886 blasted away the mountain and covered its multi-hued terraces with a new layer of lava, leaving in its path an entirely new geological structure.
Students of natural healing will be enthralled by the Rotorua Museum, a large half timbered building originally built by the government in the early days of European settlement in order to encourage the development of Rotorua as an international health spa. Our party members will be intrigued to see the well-preserved health studios of that era. Some members may also be interested in the more recent hospital, also inaugurated by the government, on the Rotorua city lakeshore which focuses on healing arthritis among other associated ailments.
The anthropologists amongst us and of course those who simply love arts and crafts will be intrigued by another and very current national institution, the Maori Arts & Crafts Institute, in which immensely skilled and seasoned master craftsmen instruct their pupils in the intricate and varied processes of carving and weaving. We will also tarry at the Kiwi House where we will view at close quarters the flightless bird, the nation’s national emblem, in a near natural state
In the evening we attend a Maori Concert Party performance where our scholars of ethnicity will observe a finely-honed and tuned stage show which blends ancient Maori tradition with the missionary era and through to the current entertainment epoch. If they have not already done so, this utterly Polynesian-infused evening will allow party members to sample the Hangi, the cooking process in which fresh vegetables and meat are placed amid white hot river stones to steam underground.
Overview: From Rotorua Airport in the middle of New Zealand’s North Island we fly now to Invercargill at the foot of the nation’s South Island. Cloud levels permitting, we should enjoy fine views of the stark backbone of this sparsely populated country, becoming increasingly spectacular as we view the snow-covered Southern Alps, the backbone of the South Island.
Invercargill, the nearest English-speaking metropolitan neighbour to Antarctica, will provide our architectural historian party members with a spectacular vision of Victorian architecture in full flow frozen in time and pretty much unblemished. Sociologists will be intrigued by Invercargill’s role until the contemporary era as a final bastion of the prohibition and temperance movement. In quite recent times Invercargill has enjoyed a renaissance as the centre of what has become recognised as New Zealand’s most productive agricultural region. In order to give our party a grounding insight into these and other elements of the world’s most southerly outpost of the protestant ethic, a cross section of local citizenry will lead our party through the life and times of this most remote of cities.
Te Anau. In the afternoon our coach takes us north across the Southland plains to Te Anau, the township that is the leaping-off point for Fiordland, New Zealand’s largest and most remote National Park. Lake Te Anau itself is the nation’s second largest lake.
Overview: An early start as we make our way through Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound via the high altitude Homer Tunnel, itself one of the great feats of New Zealand engineering. At Milford we board our cruise vessel and set off in the shadow of Mitre Peak to explore the sheer-cliff region. Ornithologists who will have viewed in captivity in Rotorua New Zealand’s emblematic flightless bird, the kiwi, will find themselves instinctively craning their necks for two more flightless birds the takahe and kakapo both denizens of Fiordland and both thought to have become extinct until their re-discovery in recent times.
Overview: This historic gold mining town is the winter sports capital of New Zealand and in the views of many, the adventure capital of the world. The fast-flowing narrow-ravined rivers that once powered the gold sluices have become now the habitat for jet boaters and bungee jumpers.
The SS Earnslaw is a coal fired steam vessel assembled during the gold rush era on the banks of Lake Wakatipu and it has been restored down to its last brass fitting. It is in regular service and is still the main cargo conduit between Queenstown and the sheep stations, as ranches are known, that line the narrow twisting lake. Our party takes it to the head of the lake and one of the most renowned of all New Zealand’s high country sheep stations, Walter Peak. Here we will have lunch in one of New Zealand’s original high country station homesteads. We will also witness an unparalleled display of a seasoned high country shepherd working with dogs and sheep in an exposition that will appeal to those involved in animal husbandry and indeed those involved with the human-quadraped interaction and relationship.
While in Queenstown we take the celebrated Gondola lift to the Skyline Restaurant and from this altitude savour the panorama of the township, the lake, and its mountain backdrop of The Remarkables, so described by the pioneers because that is what they exclaimed when they first saw them.
Overview: From Queenstown Airport we fly via Christchurch to Wellington, capital of New Zealand. On arrival we undertake a rapid acclimatisation focusing on the old inner city around the harbour. This includes the Thorndon area, celebrated for its San Francisco-like neighbourhood including its signature wooden house, the Katherine Mansfield House, once the family home of the nation’s most renowned writer. Here we inspect too the Prime Minister’s residence and the colossal former departmental buildings, often regarded as the largest unaltered monolithic wooden building anywhere. It is now home to the Victoria University Law School. With legislation in mind we continue our walk in this compact area to tour Parliament with its old colonial era wing and counterpoint to this British architect Sir Basil Spence’s Beehive as it is officially known because it looks like one. In this Parliamentary Precinct we see also the National Library, home of much of the nation’s historic archive, among a number of other contemporary public buildings. In our promenade we also take in the close by Botanic Gardens, one of Australasia’s great examples of a Victorian municipal garden.
Overview: Zealandia Native Sanctuary is the showpiece example of the nation’s drive to restore areas of original or native flora and fauna to their original state, prior to the arrival of the Europeans. This procedure initially involves the sealing off of the area, and then eliminating from within the bounds any introduced species of the type that preys on flightless birds and other original species. This visit is scheduled to give our party the best possible insight into this New Zealand campaign to recreate pre-European snapshots of its natural life.
This same day and with this theme in mind we also visit on Wellington’s pedestrian super-friendly waterfront the Museum of New Zealand, known as Te Papa. Here party members will be thrilled by the dioramas of New Zealand at every stage, pre historic, pre European, colonial and contemporary. Engineering and earth science devotees will be intrigued by these three dimensional working expositions and especially on the way in which the nation’s volcanic past and present has affected the successive waves of settlement. In this regard earthquake-proofing will be of notable interest especially in the modern Te Papa structure itself built around the imperative of earthquake impact isolation.
In the evening at our hotel there will be a background outline from a constitutional specialist with a view to explaining how New Zealand differs in terms of governance from other English-speaking nations such as the United States, Australia, and Canada. While this discussion will be of particular interest to constitutionalists and those in the political science sphere it will also be of wider value to our party at large in defining how this nation’s governance differs from a federalist one.
Overview: After our informal tutorial of the night before and having these institutions in their physical presence in our minds, we return to Parliament for a detailed tour of the buildings, and, if in session, attendance at the Visitors’ Gallery.
Similarly we tour the High Court, and the Supreme Court and if they are in session and the capacity available we will sit in for part of the proceedings.
Overview: Our coach on our last day in New Zealand takes us along the fringes of Port Nicholson and as we drive east to Eastbourne we follow the capital’s straight-as-arrow seismic fault line. Swinging back to the west our coach takes us out into the capital’s Cook Strait shoreline past the old Italian fishing settlement of Island Bay and onto the a rocky and often blustery coast and it is here that in the vicinity of the Red Rocks seal colony that we enjoy lunch prior to embarking at the nearby Wellington International Airport at Miramar for Sydney. Miramar is the suburb that is home to Sir Peter Jackson’s studios and his Weta Workshop, a proximity that we will be reminded of by the numerous and outsize Tolkien artefacts that adorn the airport passenger areas.
THERE IS A 3 NIGHT BREAK BETWEEN THIS SECTION OF THE PROGRAM AND THE NEXT. PARTICIPANTS MAY CHOOSE TO DO MELBOURNE AS A OPTION OR TAKE A COUPLE OF DAYS TO EXPLORE SYDNEY OR NEW ZEALAND AT THEIR LEISURE BEFORE THE SECOND PART OF THE PROGRAM COMMENCES IN SYDNEY.
Melbourne OPTION Day 1
Melbourne – an overview
Our flight from Sydney brings us into Melbourne with plenty of time to appreciate what was at one time the most fabulous of all Queen Victoria’s imperial cities. At the height of the Australian gold rush Melbourne’s metropolitan real estate was the most expensive in the world and this soaring, if brief, global pre-eminence is commemorated today in Melbourne’s role as the banking centre of Australia. From Melbourne’s airport our coach takes us on a familiarisation tour of Australia’s second largest city with special attention to the trademark trams which glide on their lines up and down the wide boulevards flanked by the majestic ornate commercial buildings for which the city is renowned.
Melbourne – Trams, Markets, and Phillip Island OPTION DAY 2
Our first full day in Melbourne begins with a scene-setting lecture on Melbourne and the State of Victoria in relation especially to Victoria’s state health system and economy. We then head by tram for Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Markets, an historic trading venue that has successfully adapted to successive and drastic market conditions and flourished in doing so. In the afternoon our coach takes us to Phillip Island accessible from the mainland by a causeway bridge. It is recognised by environmentalists because of its importance in supporting significant populations of fairy penguins, short-tailed shearwaters and pacific gulls. In addition, there is a wildlife park where wallabies and kangaroos roam freely amongst the visitors and can be fed by hand. Seal Rocks, at the western end of the island, hosts the largest colony of fur seals in Australia.
Melbourne the Art of Victoria OPTION DAY 3
The National Gallery of Victoria is the oldest and largest public art museum in Australia. This visit is accompanied by several learned expositions on its contents, notably of the Aboriginal contribution. We also tour on foot the neighbouring Melbourne arts precinct of South Bank. We peek into the Reserve Bank, Melbourne branch because in the foyer is Sir Sydney Nolan’s immense and spectacular work Eureka Stockade, commemorating the gold fields revolt that became Australia’s only mass insurrection.
What’s included in our Tour
- Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour
- 11 nights accomodation in 3* hotels
- Detailed Preparatory Information
- 11 breakfasts, meals to be confirmed
What’s not included in our Tour
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Return economy class international airfare and departure taxes.
- Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry