Auckland, on New Zealand's North Island, is a multi-cultural hub of food and wine, art and culture, with incredible natural wonders on its doorstep. There's plenty to see and do in the heart of the city, but traveling further afield opens the opportunities considerably. To the west, we head to the hills and sample the bounty of the region, which is ideal for growing grapes and olives. You’ll have the chance to meet local farmers and producers who introduce you to their day-to-day lives and share a tasting or a meal—one of the best ways to experience a new place.
The following day you’ll turn to the east and experience a stunning protected island paradise thought to be one of the world’s most successful conservation projects. Bird encounters are all but guaranteed on this island, with some 71 different species for you to find and listen to.
Note: On select departure dates this may run as either a pre- or post-voyage extension. Please call for details.
Day 1 - Auckland, New Zealand
Arrive today in Auckland, where you are met at the airport and transferred to the Sky City Grand Hotel (or similar), our home for three nights. New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is also the largest Polynesian city in the world and the most multi-cultural, with over 180 different ethnic groups. All of which adds up to one big, bustling, cosmopolitan and vibrant place—built on the remains of 50 volcanoes. After an early lunch at our hotel, we have a guided overview of the city, seeing the iconic Sky Tower; views of Viaduct Harbour, which is full of super yachts and lined with bars and cafes; and Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, based around an extinct volcano and home to the Auckland volcanic field. The late afternoon and evening are at leisure for independent activities. (L)
Day 2 - Auckland Environs: Meet the locals
To experience a country is to share a meal with local residents. While Auckland may be the largest city in New Zealand, the land around it is some of the most fertile in the country, making it the perfect place to grow vegetables, raise stock, and produce delicious fruit. Today you’ll meet local farmers, growers, and producers who introduce you to their day-to-day lives and welcome you to their properties. As you travel from place to place, your guide will collect ingredients to bring back to Vineyard Cottages for our lunch. The owner, Elle, greets us and gives us a personal tour of her vineyard and vegetable garden. Elle has also arranged an olive oil tasting from a local grove with some stone oven baked breads. While the grills are on for lunch to be prepared, you may enjoy the views from the veranda or join in with the preparation of lunch. Tonight, enjoy a group dinner at Sky Tower. (B,L,D)
Day 3 - Auckland Environs: Conservation at its Best
Today we travel by ferry to Tiritiri Matangi Island—a stunning wildlife sanctuary in the Hauraki Gulf. ‘Tiri', as it is often fondly referred, has a remarkable conservation story. It has seen volunteers and New Zealand’s Department of Conservation join forces to bring this island from the brink of environmental disaster to what you will experience today: an island reforested in native bush and bursting with iconic New Zealand bird life.
A local guide will lead you on a bush walk, showing you the best spots to watch bird life and teaching you how to identify the bird calls echoing through the trees. Fascinating commentary will offer insight into how this island has been restored to its former natural glory (through the help of thousands of volunteers) after human occupation nearly destroyed it.
After the walk, you will visit the original lighthouse then head to Hobbs Beach to enjoy a picnic lunch with the group. After this unique experience, you will return to downtown Auckland on the ferry and join the main group at the hotel. (B,L)
Costs & What's Included
Three hotel nights in Auckland, meals as indicated, group transfers from/to airports, all sightseeing, tips and service charges, and services of a Lindblad Expedition Leader.
All airfares; ask for details on flight recommendations and availability. Items of a personal nature.