“Ultimate South Island Adventure – Pure New Zealand” #2

   Sept 28- Oct 8, 2024         

We must close out trips out 90 days before departure.  Price listed below the daily itinerary


Kia Ora, or welcome nature lovers! Join us on a 9-day adventure through the breathtaking regions of New Zealand under the Southern Cross. Come explore the snow-capped Southern Alps, with their alpine lakes, lush rainforests, waterfalls, glaciers, and fjords. From delightful Christchurch to Dunedin and Queenstown, with a dozen towns in between, you’ll capture incredible photos of pure wilderness.

Imagine the Tranz Alpine Rail journey to Arthur’s Pass, a wilderness cruise through Doubtful Sound spotting glaciers in Fiordland National Park, exploring the high country of Mount Cook, experiencing the wild region of Waitaki, and taking leisurely walks in Te Anau as you search for kiwis and whales along the way. Our previous nine AFS groups loved NZ. This time, our focus is on the dramatic contrasts of the South Island, where adventures abound.

We packed this trip with so many thrills! Enjoy a canyon safari on jet boats, indulge in wine tasting at Gibbston Valley, embark on a magical Glowworm Caves boat tour, and visit Lord of the Rings’ filming locations, among other activities.

We then head south to stunning Queenstown, located on a blue glacial lake surrounded by the Remarkables Mountains. Queenstown is known is the “adventure capital of New Zealand” with endless activities and enticements. They even invented bungee jumping, zip lines, gorge swings, and zorb balls. How about taking the Skyline Gondola up a mountain and enjoying a luge ride down or going on a steamer cruise to the famous Walter Peak sheep farm? We give your free time to consider rafting, a helicopter ride, explore nature trails or indulge in the wonderful food scene here. This could be your best vacation yet, filled with epic discovery and fun!

The 100% pure majestic beauty of New Zealand makes it a dream destination perfect for anyone’s bucket list. Our trip is limited to 28 AFS travel lovers at an unbeatable price. There’s no country like New Zealand – a safari for the senses. The adrenaline rush is free, and the memories you create will be priceless.


Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

Dec 1 update – Please note the Transalpine train revised schedule for 2024. We had to reverse part of the itinerary. Nothing is removed. Program is the same. One night Christchurch, one night Dunedin, one night Te Anau, three nights Queenstown, two nights Christchurch. 

Click for a printable PDF NZ2 itinerary

Sept 28 & 29  –  Fly USA to Christchurch New Zealand.  Air details to come and trip tips. (Note you cross the international date line to arrive a day later but you gain it back at the end.)

Sep 30 –  Welcome to Christchurch New Zealand!       Land begins.   D

Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains and the second largest in the country. It is known as the Gateway to the Antarctic. Scott’s expedition set out from here and there is a statue of this person in central Christchurch. It is also known as the “Garden City” due to its well-planned expansive parks and public gardens such as Hagley Park and the Botanic Garden both with stunning displays of native and exotic trees, flowers and plants. It also has a distinct English flavour which can be experienced on a New Zealand vacation by walking along the gently winding Avon River. The city is compact with Cathedral Square being the centrepiece together with the outstanding Christchurch Cathedral dating back to 1881. Being close to the sea, Christchurch has a number of great beaches and great places to walk or relax. In February 2011, the Central Business District area of Christchurch suffered a devastating earthquake causing the city to change dramatically as it reinvents itself and emerges as a modern diverse, colorful and trendy city.  Check out the street art trail with beautiful murals telling stories of the city’s resilience.

All must meet up by 2 PM at Christchurch Airport.  We meet our driver/guide at Christchurch Airport and enjoy an Orientation Sightseeing city tour and then checkin hotel. Time to relax and freshen up.

Tonight a Welcome Dinner at the Curator’s House Restaurant (3 course meal) to get to know your fellow AFS Travelers. Christchurch is the cultural hub of the south island and comes alive at night, full of entertainment. Have dinner on the tram, cinemas with breweries, book a show or have a soak at He Puna hot pools.

Overnight in Christchurch at Distinction Christchurch Hotel, Classic Room (1 Night)

The renovated Distinction Christchurch Hotel is an urban escape combining sophisticated smarts and familiar warmth near Cathedral Square. This luxury Christchurch accommodation is ideally positioned in the heart of the city, only a few minutes’ walk from the Avon River, Botanical Gardens, Christchurch Casino, Cashel Mall and new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.


Oct 1 – CHRISTCHURCH – OAMARU – DUNEDIN                                                           B

After breakfast, we check out.   Today, transfer to Dunedin, visiting Oamaru & Moeraki Boulders en route.  The boulders are located on Koekohe Beach and are mysterious spherical stones scattered across this beautiful beach. Each boulder measures up to two meters high and weighs several tons. According to the local Maori legend, the boulders are gourds washed ashore from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked upon landfall in New Zealand hundreds of years ago. It’s the perfect Instagram spot.

Continue on to Dunedin/ Otepoti, often called the “Edinburgh of the South.” Dunedin was settled by the Scottish settlers who came to New Zealand. It is a city of spires, of towers, gables and roofs with turrets, and gracious, generally stone, buildings. Dunedin is known as the wildlife capital of New Zealand for its animals and stunning biodiversity.  It is also home to the Albatross and Penguin colonies, plus many wildlife species.  Evening on own at leisure. At night, there’s southern sky stargazing and great pubs with live music.

Overnight in Dunedin at Scenic Hotel Dunedin City, Superior Room (1 Night)

Our hotel is in the heart of the city. The chic Scenic Hotel Dunedin City boasts an impressive contemporary design that has won numerous accolades. Each spacious guest room comes complete with state-of-the-art amenities and captivating local artwork, ensuring a perfect blend of modernity and cultural authenticity.  You’ll find yourself feeling perfectly in sync with the pulsating rhythm of this dynamic city during your stay at Scenic Hotel Dunedin City.

Oct 2 – DUNEDIN – TE ANAU                                                                                             B

Check out after breakfast.   We will start with an Orientation Tour in Dunedin before heading out and traveling through lush green pastures, crossing sheep-filled farming land. New Zealand is internationally known for its sheep farming, and these are sights many visitors to this country recognize as typically ‘New Zealand’. You are sure to find the perfect sheep photo here! As your journey continues, the rolling, grassy hills once again turn back into heavily forested, rugged mountains, and you meander your way up into the Fiordland National Park to the South Island’s biggest lake and the town of Te Anau.

Te Anau is the focal point of the Fiordland National Park, the country’s most rugged and remote. Lake Te Anau sprawls at the feet of high rugged mountains with its South, Middle and North fiords probing into the ranges. The Lake, New Zealand’s second largest, is 417 meters deep.

Here we get ready for an adrenaline-filled jet boat adventure – Fiordland JetPure Wilderness!  After check-in, we will don a life jacket before taking a short ride in our small coach through Southland farms to the Queen’s Reach boat ramp. The jet boat travels down the Upper Waiau River with lush beech forest on either side and staggering mountain peaks in every direction. The captain will make stops along the river to talk about the area and its rich history – and also provide plenty of iconic 360-degree spins! Stops will include spots to look for Rainbow and Brown Trout in the crystal-clear waters and three film locations featured in Lord of the Rings.

The mouth of the river opens onto Lake Manapouri – named NZ’s most beautiful lake – and provides one of the most impressive views in Fiordland – if not all of NZ. Here you have the unique opportunity to experience solitude and silence as the crew turns off the engine. As we approach the Leaning Peak – the entrance to Doubtful Sound -the guide will discuss the vast array of conservation efforts to ‘save our birds’ and how Fiordland Jet and guests contribute to such efforts. Highlights include Pomona Island – one of 33 islands located on Lake Manapouri – that is also predator-free. Surrounded by towering mountains, this place is one not to missed and our Fiordland Jet boat is almost always the only powered craft for miles. The guide will then take the boat ashore so guests can disembark and step foot into Fiordland National Park to explore the native bush. We will learn about the local flora and fauna from our knowledgeable guides up close, all while breathing in the ancient forest in one of the largest protected areas in the world. After the short nature walk, we will board the boat to head back up the river to the boat ramp as their driver adds in more spins and commentary to make the most of our motto – FUN IS GOOD!​​​​​​​

Later we transfer to The Real NZ Visitor Centre to check in and get ready for their next adventure, The Te Anau Glowworm Caves. Cruise across beautiful Lake Te Anau, to the Cavern House. On arrival, learn about the caves and view fascinating displays. Your guides will then take you in small groups by path and small boats underground into the caves. Highlights include incredible limestone caverns, whirlpools, waterfalls and the magical glow-worm grotto.

For those who are interested, there will be a guided walk (approx 30-40 minutes) in the forest area and lake surrounding the caves offered to guests as an option. Return to Te Anau.  (Note: Not suitable for heeled shoes. Steps are involved.)   Evening on your own at leisure.

Overnight in Te Anau at Distinction Luxmore Hotel, Standard Room (1 Night)  

Our hotel is nestled in the heart of Te Anau lies the charming Distinction Luxmore Hotel, part of the 4-star Silver Collection from the renowned, 100% New Zealand-owned Distinction Hotels Group. With its complimentary unlimited WiFi, this lovely hotel is your perfect home base while exploring the breathtaking Fiordland region.  Boasting two restaurants and top-notch service, the warm and attentive staff at Distinction Luxmore ensures a memorable and enjoyable experience during your stay in enchanting Te Anau.


Oct 3 – TE ANAU – DOUBTFUL SOUND – QUEENSTOWN                                              B

Queenstown is the South Island’s most popular resort and the base for many excursions. Set alongside the shores of Lake Wakatipu, under the gaze of the stunning Remarkables Ranges. See the contrast of smooth glacier rounded hills, and jagged mountain summits that reach high above the ancient ice floor. The town is renowned for its jet boating, bungy-jumping, skiing and awe-inspiring scenery. Local story has it, that the gold prospectors of the 19th century pronounced the town as “fit for any Queen”, and so she was called Queenstown.

After breakfast and check out, we transfer to Manapouri.   Here we embark on a Wilderness Cruise in Doubtful Sound.

Depart from Pearl Harbour, Manapouri, and cruise across picturesque Lake Manapouri to West Arm. Travel by coach over Wilmot Pass, through dense rainforest. Once at Doubtful Sound, also called “Sound of Silence”, we board the Patea Explorer for a 3-hour cruise of beautiful Doubtful Sound, to the Tasman Sea. There is excellent viewing of waterfalls, rainforests, and mountains. Of particular interest, if sighted, are fur seals basking on the rocks, or a resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. The rare Fiordland crested penguins are sometimes encountered, depending on the season. Return to Manapouri at the end of your journey. (What to Bring: Comfortable shoes, waterproof jacket, warm clothing.)

After a lunch, we enjoy a film called Shadowland at the Fiordland Cinema in Ata Whenua. Ticket included with some canapes and a drink for the group. Shadowland brings you the Fiordland World Heritage Status Wilderness you would otherwise never see.  Mysterious, evocative, exhilarating, and utterly spectacular, filmed across extremes of season, climate, and terrain, it will take you on an unforgettable journey through one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes on earth.

Transfer to Queenstown – truly New Zealand’s capital of adventure! On arrival check into the hotel and enjoy the evening at leisure.  Our 4 star hotel sits overlooking on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and within walking distance of Queenstown’s central shopping and entertainment area. All our past New Zealand groups love this property for location and the kind staff. The town is compact enough to get around on foot, with courtesy vehicles or Uber available to take you to outlying attractions. Queenstown has more than 100 restaurants, plenty of entertainment, accommodations to suit all tastes, and great shopping for the coolest New Zealand products crafted here.

Overnight in Queenstown at Copthorne Hotel & Resort Lakefront, Superior Room (3 Nights)     


Experience tranquility at Copthorne Hotel and Resort Queenstown Lakefront. This beautiful establishment is situated on the breathtaking shores of Lake Wakatipu, offering mesmerizing views and easy access to Queenstown’s bustling shopping and entertainment district with the stunning Remarkable’s mountain range just a 45 minute drive away. 

Our charming accommodation in Queenstown harmoniously blends in with the surrounding natural beauty. With 240 well-appointed guest rooms with Wi-Fi access, both in public areas and in our delightful Impressions Restaurant and Cocktail Bar.


Oct 4 – QUEENSTOWN – SIGHTSEEING & WINE TASTING                                          B, L

You’ll love our full-day sightseeing tour visiting Arrowtown, Bungy Bridge and Wanaka including lunch and wine tasting at a local wineyard.  Note: For the Winery, we will know closer to the date which winery; it will be either Gibbston Valley or Kinross.

Arrowtown: where a vibrant history melds with glorious nature to make an enchanting must-do experience. A walk down Arrowtown’s heritage main street is a journey back in time, while the hills and rivers that teemed with gold mines a century and a half ago are now a mecca for hikers and bikers. Historic Arrowtown is a New Zealand treasure, only a scenic 25-minute drive from Queenstown, and a popular winter base for international ski teams. It’s charming and quirky – a delightful gold-rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession
of small-town heritage buildings that stretch into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miners’ cottages that date to the 1870s. The buildings in this lovely precinct house shops, galleries, bars and restaurants – many classy, most individual, not one from an international chain.
It is a wonderful place to browse and relax, enjoy a meal, and soak up Arrowtown’s lively heritage.

: faces north across Lake Wanaka, to views of the surrounding mountains, which are often reflected on the Lake’s surface on calm days. Poplars and willows grow around the Lake’s edge, affording a colorful show during autumn. Wanaka is best known for boating, fishing and skiing at the Cardrona and Treble Cone ski-fields.  Return to Queenstown for evening at leisure.

Oct 5 – QUEENSTOWN AT LEISURE                                                                                 B

Free day to play! The place to complete your adventure ‘to do’ list: Skydiving, bungy jumping, jetboating, canyon swinging, whitewater rafting, paragliding, heli-skiing and more.  Home to the world’s first commercial jet boating, bungy jump and river surfing, there is something for all.  Queenstown’s reputation as the world’s favorite adrenaline destination is well deserved. From the mild to the wild, you’ll find your adventure threshold here. The expansive natural environment offers superb air, water and land-based activities for walking, sailing, hiking, climbing, fishing, cycling, golfing, off-roading, or mountain biking. Your options are endless. Go to www.purenewzealand.com to view all the adventures in QT. Our past groups love Skyland Queenstown. Ride the gondolas up the mountains for breathtaking views, walk nature trails and lunch at the panoramic restaurant. Then enjoy a gravity-fueled luge ride down around corners and tunnels. Board the chair lift back up, and do it all again for the thrill of a lifetime.   (Book there, around $70).  Each evening it’s a vibrant nightlife here with evening lake cruises, wine and craft beer twilight tours, the Onsen hot pools, ice bars, Night Luge and more.

AFS Optional Tour:  Walter Peak – Farm & Lunch  –  Everyone loves this place.  Your excursion begins in Queenstown, Steamer Wharf.  We board the 40-minute TSS Earnslaw boat ride across Lake Wakatipu to the shores of Walter Peak High Country Farm. Get off the boat and discover the workings of this sprawling working farm. Strolling through the property’s idyllic lakeside gardens surrounding the Colonel’s Homestead offers fantastic views of the lake and mountains.  The farm staff will take you on a walking tour where you will see the animals of the farm: sheep, red deer and Scottish cattle. Watch sheep shearing show and the amazing sheepdogs at work! Fuel up at the farm with a delicious BBQ lunch.  The return trip is again by steamboat across the lake to the Queenstown Pier.  $140 USD Per Person

Oct 6 – QUEENSTOWN – MOUNT COOK – CHRISTCHURCH                                         B, D

After breakfast, we check out.  Board coach to journey deep into the Southern Alps from Queenstown to Mount Cook. Pass through the historic gold mining district of the rugged Kawarau River Gorge and the famous fruit growing region of Cromwell. Skirting the shores of Lake Dunstan, your tour crosses the Lindis Pass into Omarama. Continue through the rugged high country landscape of the Mackenzie Basin to arrive at Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, home to Australasia’s highest mountain at 3,724 meters. This is a photographers paradise.  Depart Mt Cook and continue travel to Lake Tekapo.

Overnight in Christchurch at Distinction Christchurch Hotel, Classic Room (1 Night)


Enjoy a cooked breakfast at the hotel before setting out on a scenic adventure today!   Transfer to Christchurch train station and check in for one of the great journeys of New Zealand – The Tranz Alpine Rail from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass!

Travel on the world-famous Tranz Alpine from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass to over the Southern Alps enjoying the incredible scenery.  From your carriage, you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains, beautiful gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.  An open-air viewing carriage allows you to get even closer to the stunning scenery and provides many opportunities to photograph your favorite spots like the snowcapped Alps and beech rainforest. There’s so much to look forward to before arriving at your destination.

Later, your driver will meet you in Arthur’s Pass and return to Christchurch with lunch included in a local restaurant in Arthurs Pass. Upon arrival back in Christchurch you will be dropped at hotel where you can then enjoy the evening at your own leisure.

We check back into our Christchurch hotel.  Tonight a farewell dinner is included at a local restaurant to toast our new AFS friends goodbye on a journey well done.

Oct 8 – CHRISTCHURCH DEPARTURE                                                                             B

Breakfast and check out. Meet your driver at the hotel lobby and transfer back to Christchurch Airport to check in for your onward flight. (There will be one common group airport transfer included. Since there is no group air, you may want to extend your tour on your own into the geothermal wonders of the North Island of New Zealand or even add Australia.)


Land price $3275 per person twin share based on 24 participants  Payments due:  50% due May 15, and final payment due June 14.

Prepaid gratuities: $90 will be added to final invoice to cover guides, drivers, ground services, etc., making distribution easier for you.     (Single rooms at $998. Limit two.)

Not included:  $15 ETA visa we will give directions in trip tips.

Itineraries are prepared up to a year ahead and things can change.  Modifications may be made.   All rooms are run of house.

Have you read the Trip Tips yet? Then Click Here


NZ #2 Travel Trip Tips 2024

Thank you for booking our new pure New Zealand dear kiwi travel lovers. Prepare to be awed by the best scenic wonders this gem of a country has to offer. From the lush vineyards and wild coastlines to sky-piercing mountains with pristine glacial lakes, you’ll see remarkable contrasts each day. With Mount Cook, Doubtful Sound, Fjordland and Queenstown, I wonder which will be your favorite. The south has it all, but some may want to extend to other regions. I designed this itinerary a year ago.  The transalpine train journey reversed its route, which is now reflected in our itinerary with everything as promised, just reversed. 

We have a wonderful group of 16 AFSers.   I need like four more on this to protect our great price and the good news is we have time to fill it.  Please tell your friends and share the trip link on your social media. I’m trying to move two people over from trip one to yours. But I know most of you on this so far. It’s guaranteed to be a great, fun group!   Connect now on your private group Facebook page to get to know each other. Many updates will be emailed to you as departure in years. Anticipation is half the fun!

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information. Updates and addendums will be posted here. Some travelers have lost their entire trip for not reading what we send on visas, air details, inoculations, etc. Check back from time to time.


Wetravel is our data management company, it allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase. As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price if you prefer to pay by check you can do so online electronically, or if you find that too daunting, you can take a photo of your check made to Adventures For Solo Travelers and text it to 770-432-8225 jotting down NZ1 in the memo and we will enter it for you free of charge.

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but a liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)

Greg Hiebert, an enthusiast for exploring the world, holds exceptional credentials in travel. In his pursuit of adventure, Greg believes that vacations should be both stimulating for the mind and invigorating for the body. Whether in exotic locations or not, he seeks out new and fascinating experiences to embark upon. Greg’s extensive travel experiences include shark cage diving in South Africa, trekking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, and conquering the 19,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro. Originating from Kansas, he has ventured to Europe, Mexico, Africa, Australia, South America, and numerous other countries.

The spark to explore the world first ignited during his college days when he worked in Yellowstone for the summer. Following his departure, he spent a month traveling and discovering the wonders of the Western United States and Mexico. Aside from travel, Greg indulges in furniture building as a hobby, creating bespoke pieces for himself and his family. He also finds joy in gardening and maintains an active lifestyle, participating in various 10K runs and half marathons. Greg’s travel goals extend beyond personal pursuits; he aims to cultivate strong connections with people, ensuring that his AFS groups have an enjoyable experience and return home yearning for more. His superpowers are patients with loving kindness.  Our travel lovers appreciate his relaxed demeanor and warm personality, which radiate positivity to all around him.

Trip Prep:
• Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
• Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages – these are Visa pages, not addendum pages.  Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.
• To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
• Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
• All airline rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! Always check your flight before departure.

Visa – New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA):U.S. citizens traveling to or transiting through New Zealand under the visa waiver program are required to have an NZeTA. It can take up to 72 hours to process. We will advise you when to apply later via their mobile app.


The cost for this visa is around $10 US


Fitness level –– Moderate walks and activities daily.   You should be able to walk one mile in 20 minutes.  If you have concerns, text your name at 770-432-8225 to discuss.   (Know your limits! AFS trips are generally soft adventures with moderate activity.  Our trips are large fun and can be active.  All tours involve walking, at times extensive with uneven pavement. As we age, we think we can do what we used to do but discover on the trip an activity is too strenuous and are slowing down the entire group. If you think you need something tamer, check out  Eldertreks – they specialize in trips for older folks. We cannot be responsible for booking a trip beyond your skill level and physical stamina. AFS is all about having a good time.  Please be respectful of your fellow AFS Travelers and consider choosing an itinerary that is more conducive to your needs so you can thoroughly enjoy your trip!)

General Air Info –  Route changes can happen now. Airlines must notify you of such and protect you if problem with flight.  Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.   Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at www.tpg.com for best cards.

Want to fly business class?  Many but don’t realize fares range from 4K to 9K. We do have two good contacts for AFS that can get seats at nearly half cost by combining award miles….  ali@above9.travel  Ph. (855) 777-6336 or britney@business-class.com 305-390-4132 or see skylux.com or business-class.com.  Tell them Suzy sent you.

Important Air Dates:  September 28 – Oct 8 round-trip to Christchurch. Land starts September 30. 

Time: 20 hours ahead of LAX. Youʼll be totally confused crossing the Intʼl Dateline, itʼs ok.

Group Air  – no group there because we will not need the minimum seats required. Also you have much more flexibility for seats and to extend trip if you book direct on your own. Below is the suggested schedule. We asked for an air raid for the group and it came up much higher than if you had gotten it on your own.  These are fantastic times.

 September 28-Oct 9 – LAX – CHC – LAX.  This is a great schedule for example…

  • NZ 005  28SEP  LAX-AKL   810pm 6am (+2 days 16SEP due to international dateline.)
  • NZ 523  30SEP  AKL-CHC (Christchurch)  750am 925am (16SEP)
  • NZ 562  8 OCT  CHC-AKL  (Auckland)  5pm 625pm
  • NZ 006  8 OCT  AKL-LAX   815pm 125pm (same day OCT 8 as you gain back your day due to international dateline)

 Doing Own Air–  dozens of airlines fly USA via Auckland to CHC; Air New Zealand, United, American, Qantas as well as Fiji Airways and Virgin Australia.

I like to add a stop over pre-or post trip to break up the long journey and augment my vacation. Prices are high now. It’s a difficult call to get your seat now or to wait until a fare sale. You can put in dates at Google flights for “fare alerts” when prices drop. Fly from your hometown to the cheapest gateway like LAX, SFO, JFK or Houston.

We like Google Flights.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it easy to book, but it is nearly impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  If you need help air with the economy seat,  our guy in Delhi can help; email flights@diversedestination.com with your exact air dates, destination, passport name, and details with birthdate.

Airport Transfers- We will have one group airport pick-up based on the group air schedule or the majority based on flight times.

(With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-ups or drop-offs.  Unfortunately, now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each person’s air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay airport parking fees. Last year in groups only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First, google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.)

Meet Up With Group- On Sept 30, in the lobby, a time will be set to meet the group at the hotel for a briefing. More on this later. Please arrive by the afternoon for our welcome dinner the first night.

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties 5 times. 1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.  Apple AirTags work great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.   Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID inside and out of carry-on and checked bag.

Packing-  Google weather in Christchurch a week prior to departure – it should be in the mid-60s with spring/fall-like weather.   September is a great time to visit with less crowds but the weather changes often.

The key is to pack versatile outfits and to layer clothing. It’s a totally casual trip – jeans, pans, sweaters, fleece for warmth, and lighter clothes for sunny days. Bring rain gear like a waterproof and windproof jacket and thermal underlayer. Bring a cap, hat, sunglasses, swimsuit for spas and a day pack. Bulky hiking boots are not necessary, just waterproof walking shoes, sandals, and sneakers. Hotels have hair dryers.

Other restrictions: No food on arrival. Ministry of Agriculture will inspect your bag on arrival. Bring nothing in. No fruit, nuts, power bars, etc. consume it on the plane or face a $200 fine. Buy food there. NZ has the freshest organic goodies to carry along.

Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Cool travel hacks from our AFSers! Pack overnight outfit in your carry-on, liquid IV packets to hydrate, use packing cubes, downy wrinkle spray, Apple AirTags, extra nylon bag to check laundry home, tons of US dollars for extra tips, fully charged travel banks, less is more, get global entry.

Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.  See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 cash should suffice.    Change currency on arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering.  Bring newer bills 2016 on as some countries won’t take old or slightly damaged bills.

Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.   Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.

Gratuities –  Tipping is not big here like in Australia or Europe, however it is protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, wait staff, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally.  $90 will be added to your invoice before final payment for ease of distribution for gratuities.

Tipping on own – If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed. Porters – AFSers roll bags to their room.  If you use a porter, please tip.  For group lunches or dinners included, please leave $2 for waitstaff!

Websites of Interest:  www.newzealand.com is the best Tourism site on the planet, with endless exploration details on every region, city, town, activity, and event you may be interested in.


Chewing-  New Zealand cuisine is known for its diverse and unique flavors influenced by Maori, European, and Pacific Island cultures. One popular dish in New Zealand is the Hangi, a traditional Maori method of cooking food in an underground oven. It typically includes meats such as lamb, pork, or chicken, along with vegetables and sweet potatoes.  Seafood is abundant in New Zealand, with specialties like green-lipped mussels, Bluff oysters, and paua (abalone) being popular choices. The country’s pristine waters provide high-quality seafood options.

New Zealand is also famous for its dairy products, particularly its world-renowned cheeses. From creamy brie and blue cheese to tangy cheddar and feta, there is a wide variety of delicious cheeses to try.  The country’s fertile lands produce a range of fresh produce, including kiwifruit, feijoas, avocados, and berries. These fruits are often incorporated into desserts, salads, and smoothies.

New Zealand has a thriving wine industry, producing excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay varieties. Wine tasting and vineyard tours are popular activities for visitors to experience the country’s wine culture.

Retail therapy – Quality Marino woolens, Maori crafts, best honeys, spa products and pua shell jewelry.

Accommodations –Accommodations – Our itinerary has links to each hotel.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare.

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   The best option is to invite a friend.  Note, kindness begets kindness.  Many of our seasoned travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.

Please understand if  the AFS room list ends up with unbalanced gender, and forces a single room, we will offer it to all in group.  If all decline, we split the added forced cost single room. If you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip unless you share in the supplement cost

AFS Optional Tour:  OCT 5 Walter Peak – Farm & Lunch  –  Everyone loves this place.  Your excursion begins in Queenstown, Steamer Wharf.  We board the 40-minute TSS Earnslaw boat ride across Lake Wakatipu to the shores of Walter Peak High Country Farm. Get off the boat and discover the workings of this sprawling working farm. Strolling through the property’s idyllic lakeside gardens surrounding the Colonel’s Homestead offers fantastic views of the lake and mountains.  The farm staff will take you on a walking tour where you will see the animals of the farm: sheep, red deer and Scottish cattle. Watch sheep shearing show and the amazing sheepdogs at work! Fuel up at the farm with a delicious BBQ lunch.  The return trip is again by steamboat across the lake to the Queenstown Pier.  $140 USD Per Person.

We will ask who wants this via email before the final payment is due.

Leisure Time –  There is so much to do in Queenstown, and we love the gondola and luge runs! Our guide can explain this to you there. For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.  If you add another country, we often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them what do you consider the cost of tours, transport, hotels, etc.  Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at https://afstravelers.com/contact-us/    More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions   . Briefly, on land packages, we’ll refund your deposit less than $155 until 5 weeks prior to the trip’s final payment due date.   Any cancellation after this date will result in full forfeiture of your deposit. AFS reserves the right to resell or otherwise use the canceled space at our discretion.

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world, we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  The best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  Note that no company covers for fear.

Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, Allianz or Seven Corners.

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!

Please be advised that the operation of some tours may need to be rearranged or modified to suit local conditions, but all activities stated will be included.  We are here for you to address any questions about your trip. In time, we believe travel will begin to normalize with less rules and we appreciate your cooperation until then.  Now more than ever before, travelers value the privilege of travel to explore our world. You’ve been waiting so long, it’s time for recess!