New Zealand Adventure

Trip Highlights

Arrive in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city and the economic anchor of the country. Travel to Rotorua, a lakeside city teeming with geothermal activity. Learn about New Zealand's famous wine industry, with exports heading to markets the world over. Take a trip to New Zealand's capital, then progress to Christchurch, the "Garden City." Travel via the famous TranzAlpine train to Queenstown.


October 18 to November 02, 2018



Tour Operator

Odysseys Unlimited

Physical Activity Level



15 Days


$ 6,074.00



Make a Reservation

Call Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064


DAYS 1 & 2:  Depart U.S. for Auckland, New Zealand
On Day 1 we depart the U.S. for New Zealand, spending Day 2 in transit.

 DAY 3:  Arrive Auckland
We arrive in New Zealand’s largest city early this morning and transfer to our hotel, where we check in.  After time to relax and freshen up, later today we take a casual walking tour of the area around our hotel.  This evening we attend a briefing on the journey ahead, followed by a welcome dinner.

Accommodations:  Stamford Plaza
Meals:  Dinner

DAY 4: Auckland
This morning we tour cosmopolitan Auckland, an eminently livable city.  One of only a few world cities straddling two harbors on separate bodies of water (the Tasman Sea to the west and Pacific Ocean to the east), this “City of Sails” offers an abundance of natural beauty.  The original settlers of this area were a Polynesian people called the Maori, who arrived in the 13th and 14th centuries and developed a unique culture that is still in evidence today throughout Auckland, and indeed the whole of New Zealand.  The city boasts the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world, and a highlight of our tour is the visit to the Auckland Museum, with its prized collections of Maori and Pacific Islander art and artifacts.  Then we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before embarking on a cruise around glittering Auckland Harbour, enjoying lovely views of the city skyline, the Auckland Harbour Bridge suspended 15 stories above the water, and dramatic Rangitoto volcano beyond the mouth of the harbor.  We return to our hotel this afternoon; the remainder of the day is free for independent exploration.  Dinner tonight is on our own; Auckland offers a wide variety of world cuisines.

Accommodations:  Stamford Plaza
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5:  Auckland/Rotorua
En route to Rotorua today we stop at Ruakuri Caves for a subterranean adventure.  We enter the caves and are greeted with a series of elaborately folded limestone formations, through which we descend to reach the real stars of the system: the unique glowworms.   A species native to the island nation, the New Zealand glowworm isn’t a worm at all, but the larva of a fly.  Thousands of these “worms” line the walls and ceilings of the Ruakuri Cave system, reflecting off the wet walls and floors to create a gorgeous display of bioluminescence.  We explore along a mile of softly lit underground caverns and view the glowworms along with hidden waterfalls, underground rivers, and picturesque rock formations.    After our touring here, we resume our journey through the center of New Zealand’s North Island, passing through verdant countryside.  We stop for lunch on our own along the way, then reach Rotorua late this afternoon.  After checking in at our hotel, we visit Te Puia Thermal Reserve and Maori Cultural Center for a traditional hangi dinner (where food is cooked using geothermal steam and heated rocks) and performance.

 Accommodations:  Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 6:  Rotorua
The lakeside city of Rotorua sits in an area of great geothermal activity, with geysers, bubbling mud pools, and hot thermal springs as evidence of the subterranean goings-on.  Indeed, Lake Rotorua itself is in a caldera, the result of an enormous volcano’s collapsed magma chamber.  We encounter this intriguing town on a morning tour that includes a visit to the acclaimed Rainbow Springs Nature Park.  Rainbow Springs offers an up-close look at New Zealand’s biodiversity, as the park features native trees, a freshwater spring, and a host of endemic plant and bird species, along with a nursery pool for the noted New Zealand rainbow trout.  Here we visit the state-sponsored National Kiwi Trust, New Zealand’s largest kiwi hatchery, where guests can watch the country’s famous birds as they are nurtured before being released into the wild.  The kiwi is linked so closely to the nation of New Zealand that its residents are known colloquially as “Kiwis.”  After our visit here, lunch and dinner are on our own.

 Accommodations:  Millennium Hotel Rotorua
Meals:  Breakfast

DAY 7: Rotorua/Napier
Today we set out for one of New Zealand’s celebrated wine regions, Hawke’s Bay, and the seaside city of Napier.  Named for the crescent-shaped, 60-mile-long bay on New Zealand’s eastern coast, the Hawke’s Bay region enjoys a dry, temperate climate with long hot summers and cool winters – perfect conditions for grape-growing.  From its beginnings in 1851 (missionaries are said to have planted wine grapes in the region), Hawke’s Bay has grown to become New Zealand’s second largest wine-producing area.  In 2010 there were over 75 working wineries here, and the unique blend of soil types, varying altitudes, and differing sunlight availability allows this relatively small region to produce a variety of high-quality red and white wines.  We take time to sample the local terroir at Church Road Winery, one of the country’s oldest and most acclaimed.  After a wine tasting and lunch here, we continue on to the seaside city of Napier, famed for its Art Deco urban architecture.  After a devastating 1931 earthquake (New Zealand’s deadliest natural disaster) leveled the city, Napier was rebuilt in this unique style; today, Napier, along with Miami Beach, rank as the most authentically Art Deco cities in the world.  Upon arrival here, we embark on a guided walking tour of this picturesque city.  Dinner tonight is on our own.

Accommodations:  Scenic Hotel Te Pania
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 8:  Napier/Wellington
We travel today to New Zealand’s capital of Wellington, stopping along the way at a private farm where we learn about the country’s vital sheep farming industry.  Wool has always been one of New Zealand’s major exports, and as late as 1960, it was responsible for over one third of the country’s export revenues.  Though the industry has fallen off in recent years, sheep farmers still take enormous pride and care in their work, as is evident on today’s tour.  We have the opportunity to watch the sheepdogs at work and to witness a sheep-shearing demonstration, where the shearers strip the sheep of its valuable coat.  We then enjoy a barbecue lunch at the farm before continuing on to Wellington.  Reaching New Zealand’s capital late afternoon, we have dinner tonight at a local restaurant.

Accommodations:  Bolton Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: Wellington
We encounter this genial waterfront city on the southern end of the North Island on this morning’s tour.  First we take a ride on the historic Wellington Cable Car (opened in 1902) for panoramic views of the city and harbor.  We also visit New Zealand’s acclaimed national museum, Te Papa, which roughly translates to “Our Place” in the Maori language.  Located on the waterfront in downtown Wellington, Te Papa showcases an impressive array of interactive exhibits, artifacts, and artwork explaining the history of New Zealand’s original inhabitants as well as its diverse immigrant community.  After our visit here, the remainder of the day is free to explore the capital as we wish, perhaps to stroll along bohemian Cuba Street; visit Wellington Zoo; or check out the lively waterfront area.  Lunch and dinner are on our own in this city with a vibrant restaurant scene.

Accommodations:  Bolton Hotel
Meals:  Breakfast

 DAY 10: Wellington/Christchurch
Today we fly south to Christchurch, New Zealand’s “Garden City.”  The largest city on New Zealand’s South Island (and third largest overall), Christchurch is also the nation’s oldest incorporated city, having been issued a royal charter from the British crown in 1856.  We take in this historic municipality on a morning tour, with several fascinating highlights.  We begin at the Botanic Gardens, the “green heart” of Christchurch dating to 1863.  An oasis of 51 acres located within a bend of the Avon River in the center of the city, Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens boast a profusion of riches, including an array of native New Zealand ferns and many year-round fauna.  We then visit Cathedral Square, once the city’s main gathering place for pedestrians and home of Christchurch Cathedral, which was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 2011.  After a string of terrible earthquakes shook Christchurch from 2010-2012, the city responded by creating one of the world’s first “pop-up” malls, with strong metal shipping containers housing everything from cafes to retail outlets.  We visit this colorful attraction, dubbed “Re:START Mall,” which sits a few blocks from Cathedral Square.  This afternoon is at leisure; we dine tonight at our hotel.

Accommodations:  Rydges Latimer Square
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 11: Christchurch/Franz Josef
Early today we embark on one of the world’s great rail journeys, as we board the TranzAlpine train.  This journey takes us along the open farmland of the Canterbury Plain, through the foothills of the Southern Alps, then into the snowcapped peaks themselves.  We travel across steel girder bridges, above deep gorges, and through mountain tunnels on our journey through this breathtaking landscape.  After disembarking in the Alps at Arthur’s Pass, we board a motorcoach for the scenic drive down New Zealand’s western coast to the village of Franz Josef.  We reach our hotel this afternoon and dine there tonight.

Accommodations:  Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 12:  Franz Josef
We awake in Westland Tai Poutini National Park this morning, a 450-square-mile nature reserve encompassing glaciers, a temperate rainforest, and miles of rugged coastline.  It is here that we encounter one of New Zealand’s most spectacular sights:  Franz Josef Glacier, the mass of ice that descends from the frigid upper reaches of the Southern Alps to less than 1,000 feet above sea level.  The official name of the glacier is Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, or “the tears of Hine Hukatere.”  According to a local legend, the “Snow Maiden” Hine Hukatere fell in love with a man named Wawe, but they were unable to touch because Hine’s icy skin would freeze Wawe’s warm human flesh.  So the couple agreed to ascend Aorangi (Mount Cook – New Zealand’s highest mountain) to ask the gods to grant Hine the warm breath and skin of a human.  Wawe knew it was forbidden for mortals to climb the sacred mountain, and as they climbed higher and higher, he began to struggle.  Finally, as Hine called him onward, Wawe fell from the mountain and perished.  It is said that Hine Hukatere still roams the slopes of the Southern Alps looking for her lover, and her tears have frozen into the beautiful river of ice that flows from the mountains.  With a local guide we take a walk in the glacial valley, where we have spectacular views of this natural wonder.  Then we visit the West Coast Wildlife Centre, home of the hatching and incubation program for the Okarito kiwi, the world’s rarest species of kiwi bird.  Only about 450 of these unique birds exist in the wild, though the Okarito kiwi (also known as the Rowi) often lives for more than 50 years.  The Centre also includes displays on the Franz Josef region and explains what life is like in this part of the country.  This afternoon is free to enjoy the splendid surroundings as we wish, and we dine tonight at our hotel.

 Accommodations:  Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

 DAY 13:  Franz Josef/Queenstown
Traveling to Queenstown today, we stop first in the lakeside resort of Wanaka, where we have time to explore and enjoy lunch on our own.  Then we continue on to the Central Otago wine region, the world’s southernmost commercial wine-growing region.  We stop at the award-winning Gibbston Valley Vineyard for a private tasting and a tour of the wine cave.  Gibbston sits in a high, narrow valley surrounded by mountainous terrain, and its hot, dry summers and cold, snowy winters give it the only true continental climate in New Zealand – a climate it shares with famous wine-growing regions such as Burgundy and the Loire Valley in France.  Late this afternoon we reach Queenstown and our hotel, where we dine tonight.

Accommodations:  Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 14:  Queenstown/Doubtful Sound
More scenic overload is in store on our full-day excursion to Fjordland National Park and Doubtful Sound, one of New Zealand’s top attractions.  A lush, unspoiled natural landscape on the southeastern tip of New Zealand, Fjordland National Park was described by New Zealand’s Governor-General Charles Lyttleton as “an awesome place, with its granite precipices, its hanging valleys, its earthquake faults and its thundering cascades.”  This enchanting woodland may seem familiar to moviegoers: director Peter Jackson filmed The Lord of the Rings’ Fangorn Forest nearby.  We travel south through this setting to Lake Manapouri, which we cross by boat, then east through imposing Wilmot Pass, the 2,200-foot high notch allowing passage through the mountains of New Zealand’s continental divide.  All this is a prelude to the stunning “Sound of Silence,” as Doubtful is called for the remarkable serenity that prevails here and in the surrounding mountain peaks, rainforest, and waterfalls.  Among the wildlife we may see on our catamaran cruise: bottlenose dolphins (one of the world’s most southernmost populations, an insular community of 70 or so individuals), fur seals, Fjordland crested penguins with their distinctive yellow eyebrow crests, and even whales. Surrounding us: rugged mountain peaks, rainforest, and many waterfalls. After this exhilarating excursion we return to Queenstown early this evening, dinner tonight is on our own.

Accommodations:  Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Meals:  Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 15:  Queenstown
Today is at leisure to enjoy this outdoor mecca with a spectacular setting on Lake Wakatipu as we wish. Options abound, as this city of only 13,000 is a mecca for sports and outdoor enthusiasts.  One option: a relaxing paddle steamer ride on Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw, the only coal-fired steamship still in service in the southern hemisphere.  Other waterborne activities include jet boating and fly fishing, while Queenstown itself offers an abundance of small, contemporary art galleries, shops, and restaurants to discover.  For a bird’s-eye view of this picturesque city and its environs, ride the Skyline gondola to Bob’s Peak on Ben Lomond, the nearby mountain looming above Queenstown.  Tonight we celebrate our New Zealand adventure over a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations:  Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Meals:  Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 16:  Depart for U.S.
We depart this morning for the airport and our return flights home.

Meals:  Breakfast

Led By

Hosted by Maureen Martin

Maureen S. Martin is Executive Director of Foundation Relations and Program Initiatives for the Office of University Development at the University of Michigan. In her work at UM, she helps faculty, deans and leadership think about partnering with professional foundations – which ideas resonate with the major funders across the country. She and her team offer counsel and support for their relationships with professional foundations and smaller, more specialized, or regional foundations.  In 2017, Michigan received more than $70 million in foundation support for work that ranges from leading edge science emanating from LSA or Medicine, for example, to neighborhood projects in Flint, Ypsilanti and Detroit. Ms. Martin also works closely with leadership in strategic initiatives such as poverty solutions, sustainability, and engaged learning, working with foundation as well as individual donors. (She loves the Oxford comma, for the record.)

A proud alumna of Michigan (twice), Ms. Martin received her B.A. in women’s studies and journalism, and an M.B.A. in corporate strategy and marketing. Her writing won a Hopwood Award for freshman essay, and she has attended the wonderful Bear River Writers Conference at Michigania. She has been a professional fundraiser since 1988, including a beginning in local theater like Performance Network (Ann Arbor), and then theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and off-Broadway’s Ensemble Studio Theatre.  From that field, she moved to increasingly responsible roles for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, The Nature Conservancy (Michigan Chapter), and The Henry Ford, prior to joining UM in 2001. Ms. Martin is a board member with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, and has volunteered on multiple boards and development committees, including environmental, women’s and arts organizations in southeastern Michigan. She’s an avid reader, a hiker, a jogger and volunteer. She and her botanist husband live outside Ann Arbor on ten acres, with an ever changing community of stray cats to be fed, befriended and placed in new homes, and a small flock of hens.

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