The Magic of New Zealand
A Visual Feast

October 26th – November 13th, 2018

Stewart HalperinJoin American photographers Stewart D Halperin and Jeff Hirsch in cooperation with Exclusive Tours Limited (a New Zealand based tour company) on an 18 day photo adventure.

This extended photo trip will visit beautiful locations on both the north and south islands of New Zealand during the height of lupine season when it will be late spring in the southern hemisphere.

We start on the north island in the vibrant city of Auckland, home to a significant percentage of the country's population. From Auckland, we will first stop for a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set before continuing southeast toward the beautiful volcanic mountainous region that is home to Rotorua and Tongariro National Park. From Tongariro we head south to the tip of the island to the great city of Wellington, full of cultural institutions, great food, and scenic views. From Wellington, we will take the ferry across to the South island to continue our journey.

Our southern portion starts in the town of Nelson, known for its artists and craftsmen. From there we travel to the port town of Hokitika for an overnight before continuing on to Christchurch, a city that combines an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. We then head towards some of the most inspiring locations on the South Island: from the marine and bird wildlife near Dunedin to the fiordlands in the south (including an overnight cruise on the magical waters of Doubtful Sound!) to the action-sports capital of Queenstown and finally to Mt. Cook and the exquisite Southern Alps. The magnificent scenery will leave you breathless at every step of the journey.

This trip will be small intimate group and is limited to 10 participants. See the trip plan and details below.

Day 1 – Friday October 26th

With a population approximately 1.5 million Auckland city is the largest urban area in New Zealand. Auckland is the largest commercial centre of the county and also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. Enjoying a mild climate (frosts are rare), 1.5 metres (60 inches) annual rainfall, it has a cosmopolitan flavour, great wining and dining and so offers a good lifestyle. Known as the “City of Sails”, Auckland has more yachts per head of population than anywhere else in world. Welcome to Auckland dinner at a local restaurant.

Overnight: MSocial Hotel, Auckland.
Meal included today is dinner.

Day 2 – Saturday October 27th

Morning guided walking tour of downtown Auckland including a visit to the Saturday outdoor market, Viaduct Basin, Wynyard Quarter and some of the quirky lanes in downtown Auckland.
Free afternoon and evening in Auckland.

Overnight: MSocial Hotel, Auckland.
Meal included today is continental breakfast.

Day 3 – Sunday October 28th

Early this morning travel to Rotorua. About 3 hours driving time today. Stop en-route for a 2 hour guided tour of Hobbiton - the largest green movie set in the world! Hobbiton Movie Set is an experience to tantalise the senses of visitors who find themselves engulfed in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of The Shire at the home of the Hobbits as featured in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies. The 12 acre green movie set is home to such enchanting things as Hobbit holes, gardens, the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn. In Rotorua visit Ohinemutu (Maori) village, St Faiths Anglican Church (historic Maori influenced church), Government Gardens and Rotorua lakefront. Late this afternoon visit Te Puia (geysers, mud pools, Maori wood carving school etc) and then attend a Maori cultural performance followed by dinner.

Overnight: Regal Palms, Rotorua.
Meals included today are continental breakfast and dinner.

Day 4 – Monday October 29th

Today travel from Rotorua to Tongariro National Park. About 2 hours 15 minutes driving time. Stop en-route at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Huka Falls. Wai O Tapu is New Zealand's most colourful volcanic area with stunning photo opportunities. At Huka Falls The previously placid waters of the Waikato River roar and rumble at great speed along the ravine before bursting into space out over Huka Falls to crash into the turbulent pool 11 metres below. A foot bridge right at the top of the falls puts you in a prime position to get up close and witness the frightening display of more than 220,000 litres of water blasting by every second. Tongariro National Park is New Zealand's oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognises the park's important Maori cultural and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.
Free evening. There are two restaurants in the hotel and another about a 3 minute walk from the hotel.

Overnight: Chateau Tongariro Hotel, Tongariro National Park.
No meals included today.

Day 5 – Tuesday October 30th

Free day to explore this dual World Heritage area either on foot or weather permitting from the air during a scenic flight. Tongariro National Park has 3 active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in “The Lord of the Rings" films) and Ruapehu with its ski slopes. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing trail passes the Emerald Lakes and boiling mud pools, culminating at still-active Red Crater.

Overnight: Chateau Tongariro Hotel, Tongariro National Park.
Meal included today is breakfast.

Day 6 – Wednesday October 31st

Early this morning travel from Tongariro National Park to Wellington. About 4 hours 15 minutes driving time. Wellington is the capital city and second most populous urban area of New Zealand, with about 460,000 residents. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. Wellington is the world's southernmost capital city of a sovereign state. The Wellington urban area comprises four cities: Wellington city, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district and about half the population; Porirua on Porirua Harbour to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley.
Free evening.

Overnight: Copthorne Oriental Bay, Wellington.
No meals included today.

Day 7 – Thursday November 1st

Free morning to discover downtown Wellington. Early afternoon travel by ferry from Wellington to Picton (about 3 hours and 30 minutes) and then by road from Picton to Nelson. About 2 hours driving time today. Nelson, established by English settlers in 1841, is a city on the South Island of New Zealand, facing Tasman Bay. It's known for local arts and crafts stores, and art galleries. It's also a popular base for nearby caving sites, vineyards and Abel Tasman National Park. On arrival in Nelson guests to go to a local supermarket and purchase food and beverage items for tomorrow's picnic lunch in Abel Tasman National Park.
Free evening.

Overnight: The Sails, Nelson.
No meals included today.

Day 8 – Friday November 2nd

Guests to bring their own lunch items, swim suit, towel, sunscreen, sun hat, sun glasses etc. Full day Abel Tasman National Park experience. Boat journey in national park and some walking. Abel Tasman National Park is a wilderness reserve at the north end of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a long trail winding over beaches and across ridges between Marahau in the south and Wainui in the north. The headland at Separation Point is home to New Zealand fur seal colonies. Little blue penguins, bottlenose dolphins and seals inhabit the Tonga Island Marine Reserve.
Free evening.

Overnight: The Sails, Nelson.
Meal included today is continental breakfast.

Day 9 – Saturday November 3rd

This morning travel to Hokitika via historic town of Reefton. About 4 hours and 30 minutes driving time today. Hokitika beach is known for fabulous sunsets. With a current urban population of about 3,000 Hokitika it is hard to believe that this town which was founded on gold mining in 1864, was a centre of the West Coast Gold Rush. By late 1866, it was one of New Zealand's most populous centres. On 16 September 1867, there were 41 vessels alongside the wharf at Hokitika, in some places three and four deep. In 1867, the port of Hokitika ranked first in New Zealand in both the number of vessels entered inwards and in the total value of exports; principally gold. Major industries of greenstone (pounamu), gold, coal, and forestry have all dwindled over the last century, but a growing ecotourism industry has grown up and the town is starting to show signs of recovery. It has become a major tourist stop on the West Coast's main highway route, with carving of greenstone an important local industry. It is also gaining a reputation for its annual wild food festival which has been running since 1990.
Free evening.

Overnight: Beachfront Hotel, Hokitika.
No meals included today.

Day 10 – Sunday November 4th

This morning travel to Christchurch via Arthurs Pass. About 3 hours and 30 minutes driving time today. Christchurch provides a graceful and fascinating recuperation from your long flight over. Described by Lonely Planet as “ vibrant city in transition, coping resiliently and creatively” – Christchurch’s energy is evident wherever you go. The city has bounced back after the Canterbury Earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 with innovative new attractions, as well as some of the old favourites. Visit the Re Start container mall, the transitional Cardboard Cathedral, and some of the many pop up bars and restaurants and bars. Contemporary art galleries, boutique shops and open air markets all attract your cameras lens.
Free evening.

Overnight: City Centre Motel, Christchurch.
No meals included today.

Day 11 – Monday November 5th

This morning travel to Dunedin. About 4 hours and 45 minutes driving time today. Dunedin is at the head of Otago Harbour on the South Island’s south eastern most coast. Known for its Scottish and Maori heritage, Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Hiking and cycling trails crisscross the dramatic landscape of the adjoining Otago Peninsula. Home to colonies albatrosses, sea Lions and rare yellow eyed penguins- the Hoiho.
Free evening.

Overnight: Motel on York, Dunedin.
No meals included today.

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Day 12 – Tuesday November 6th

Free morning in Dunedin. Perhaps visit the Chinese Garden, Dunedin Railway Station, Olveston historic home etc or just relax. At 1.00 pm depart Motel on York for the afternoon tour. This afternoon please make sure you are wearing good walking shoes and layers of clothes and carry refreshments and snack food with you. Enjoy a visit to Larnach Castle, the Albatross Center and then visit a private location where you may see such creatures as yellow eyed penguins “Hoiho” (only found in New Zealand), Hooker sea lions ( only found in New Zealand) New Zealand fur seals and a wide variety of marine birdlife. Situated on the picturesque Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is one of New Zealand’s premier visitor attractions. Lovingly restored by the Barker Family, the Castle and surrounding grounds are at the heart of the Dunedin visitor experience.
Free evening.

Overnight: Motel on York, Dunedin.
No meals included today.

Day 13 – Wednesday November 7th

This morning travel to Te Anau. About 3 hours and 30 minutes driving time today. The picturesque township of Te Anau is the main visitor base for the glacier carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park. On the eastern shore of Lake Te Anau it is the largest lake on the Southern Island.
Group dinner at hotel.

Overnight: Distinction Te Anau Hotel, Te Anau.
Meal included today is dinner.

Day 14 – Thursday 8th

This morning travel to Doubtful Sound for an overnight cruise on this world famous sound. Immerse yourself in the vast and untouched wilderness of Doubtful Sound, the second largest fiord in Fiordland National Park. With its rugged peaks, verdant rainforest and twisting hidden inlets it will take your breath away. We will be the rare few on the Sound over night in our small cruiser. Our captain and crew will not only show you magical places, but cook you incredible meals while aboard. Bottlenose Dolphins, fur seals and sometimes even the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin may be seen. Getting to Sound is an adventure unto itself. With no direct road access, the only way you can get to the Sound is a by a cruise across Lake Manapouri and a coach trip over Wilmot Pass. This isolation makes the fiord a very special place. I have done this cruise many times before and cannot wait to retrace each and every step of this intense journey. Lunch and dinner on the Vessel. Small intimate vessel where travelers will have to share cabins for that one night. (Yes you will have your own bed!)

Overnight: Vessel on Doubtful Sound.
Meals included today are breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Day 15 – Friday November 9th

Late this afternoon travel to Queenstown. About 2 hours driving time today. Queenstown’s stunning scenery, huge range of activities and renowned warm welcome cement its reputation as New Zealand favorite visitor destination! Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of the region create a perfect blend incredible adventures to pure relaxation.
Free evening.

Overnight: Heartland Hotel, Queenstown.
Meals included today are breakfast and lunch.

Day 16 – Saturday November 10th

Free day and evening in Queenstown.

Overnight: Heartland Hotel, Queenstown.
No meals included today.


Day 17 – Sunday November 11th

This morning travel to Aoraki / Mount Cook. About 3 hours driving time today. Free afternoon at Aoraki / Mount Cook for hiking / walking and great photo opportunities in this fabulous alpine area of Aoraki- Mount Cook. The highest point of the Southern Alps is the highest point in all New Zealand! The spectacular Aoraki/ Mount Cook stands at over 12,000 feet. In fact Aoraki is the Maori word for Cloud Piercer!
Free evening.

Overnight: Aoraki Court Motel, Aoraki / Mount Cook.
No meals included today.

Day 18 – Monday November 12th

This morning travel to Christchurch. About 4 hours driving time today. Travel from the Southern Alps and across the Canterbury Plains. From the turquoise coloured alpine lakes to the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps big scenery is the order of the day with huge panoramas of lakes, mountains, great sweeps of pastureland, massive amounts of sky and clouds beyond description. For me sometimes so awesome I cannot pick my camera up! Highlights en route will include small rural Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo and town of Geraldine.
Group farewell dinner tonight.

Overnight: City Centre Motel, Christchurch.
Meals included are breakfast provisions and dinner.

Day 19 - Tuesday November 13th


NOTE: Travelers, please supply inbound and outbound flight details so that transfer from motel to Christchurch airport can be booked or arranged upon your arrival and departure from New Zealand.

No meals included today.
Farwell and safe travelling.

Per person price in both New Zealand and USA Dollars:

NZD $11,800.00 / USD $8,600.00 per person on a twin double share.
NZD $13,600.00 / USD $9,900.00 per person on a single basis.

Per person price includes:

  1. 18 nights of accommodation including shared cabin on board vessel on Doubtful Sound for one night.
  2. Meals as listed per day.
  3. Road transport, driver, tour guide, guided tour of Hobbiton Movie Set, guided tour of Te Puia, Maori cultural performance, guided tour of Wai O Tapu Thermal Wonderland, boat cruise and guided tour of Abel Tasman National Park, guided tour of Larnach Castle, guided tour of Albatross Centre, guided tour of private farm in search of penguins/sea lions/seals and other marine life.
  4. Friday 26th October transfer from Auckland airport to Auckland accommodation and Tuesday 13th November transfer from Christchurch accommodation to Christchurch airport. Travelers to supply their flight arrival details for Friday 26th October and and their flight departure details for Tuesday 13th November.
  5. Department of Conservation Concession and New Zealand Goods and Service Tax at 15%.
  6. All photographic related services, image reviews, dialogue during each and everyday

Not included: Flights to and from New Zealand, travel insurance, tips and gratutities, and non specified meals.

To secure your space on this trip deposit of the following required:

For a twin share NZD 1180 / USD $865
For a single NZD 1360 / USD $1,000

Deposit refundable until May 26, 2018

Final payment due no later than August 1, 2018.

Payments by telegraphic transfer (wire) are preferred and Exclusive Tours Limited will provide the appropriate bank account details for individuals to make their payments.

Payments can be made by credit card (Visa and Mastercard) but will incur a 4% credit card surcharge