A B  EXPLORER  TOURS

Box 153 GORE 9740  Ph 03 2087704 or 0274 324068

abexplorertours@xtra.co.nz         

Tour Director – Allan Boyer

Member New Zealand Professional Guides Association  &  Travel Agents Association New Zealand

SPECIAL BULLETIN:  August 2020

 

This is not the usual time sequence for our regular Bulletin update but in these uncertain times thought it to be a good idea to bring you up to speed as to where we are in relation to departures planned. Right now the chances of travel to Australia look unlikely for some considerable time and like others in the industry I feel that this may be well towards the end of next year at least before that happens in safety. Travel to the rest of the world may not eventuate until 2022. Even when those opportunities do arise then we will need to ensure it is safe to do so considering the impact Covid-19 has created around the world.

 

Since the May Bulletin we have been out and about in the South Island checking out our usual destinations and meeting up with the accommodation providers (some of whom are new to us) in the various places we visit. In addition there are new Explorer departures in the pipeline resulting from those trips as well as the North Island. We plan to offer these over the next 12 months due to the fact that there will probably be no departures to Australia including Norfolk Island till well into next year and beyond as indicated above. Is it now the time for you to venture out into little old New Zealand and see new places, or some you have not been to or seen for some time. It seems, and has to be the new norm for we travellers at the moment. It's quite good out there in our own uncrowded country too.

 

So with all this in mind following is our thinking and planning currently.

 

WEST COAST MOLESWORTH:

This has been held over from April which was fully booked. This is now being run in November and we are holding a wait list for that. We may look at running another if demand keeps building for this.

 

RAIL NORTH ISLAND:

Have had a suggestion made that a journey on the Northern Explorer train should be undertaken. Kiwi Rail are indicating that this train and the Coastal Pacific train should be operating by early summer but no dates have been indicated at this time.

Plan would be to travel from Christchurch to Picton on the Coastal Pacific then the Inter Islander Ferry to Wellington to overnight. Next day take the Northern Explorer from Wellington to Auckland. The route is through the centre of the North Island via Taihape, Waiouru, National Park and the Raurimu Spiral, Taumarunui then on to Auckland. A couple of days there to check out the city and its attractions like Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium, MOTAT Transport Museum and other places as time allows. There can be 2 options for coming south and home - repeat the train and ferry journeys in reverse to Christchurch or you could fly home. There is some enthusiasm for this so if you would like to be kept informed do let us know. I would imagine the whole trip would cover around 8 days. If this appeals to you it would be interesting to see the country in this way.

 

CANTERBURY MARLBOROUGH BULLER:

As indicated in the last bulletin we were looking to combine parts of 2 of our popular Explorer departures. This is now formulated to depart on February 19th returning home to the south on 5th March and the itinerary follows-

Day 1. To  Ashburton to overnight.

Day 2 & 3.  A leisurely drive up to Kaikoura for 2 nights at the seaside Panorama Motels with sea and mountain views. Today we visit places off the main road as time allows. For the next day in Kaikoura there is plenty to do ie; visit the new American car display, the amazing town museum with its earthquake information, do the South Coast Loop Peninsula Walk (optional), or even catch a whale watch sailing or flight. The other attraction could be just to sit back and unwind with a good book and take in the views.

Day 4. To Blenheim for 3 nights at Centre Court Motel. The rail and road rebuild are still ongoing but much progress has been made and there are several places to pull off the highway and appreciate just what has been achieved since the earthquake of 2016. And the seals are back too. Loads of other places to explore today as well including a drive through the Yealand Vineyards to the coast.

Day 5 & 6. A cruise on Queen Charlotte Sound out to Cook's Landing Place near to Cook Strait which makes an interesting and informative 3 hour sailing. If you have done this recently then the time in Picton is worthwhile and perhaps a trip to the fenced off bird sanctuary might be of interest. Time allowed to visit Omaka Aviation Centre with its 2 different aircraft of WW1 & WW 2 displays. Free time around the town too.

Day 7. To Murchison. We travel west to pristine Lake Rotoiti and St Arnaud. Short walks by the lake  to see the start of the Buller River. Next out to Kawatiri and on to Murchison to overnight. The town has interesting second hand shops, original grocer shop and other places to take in.

Day 8. Travel up part of the Maruia River Valley to Springs Junction then over the hills to historic Reefton. Time here to wander around the interesting craft and second hand shops with its local characters who make up some of the population. In the afternoon  to Inangahua Junction to rejoin the Buller River again and follow it past Hawks Crag to Westport and the mouth of the river. We will be based here for 4 nights.

Day 9. Travel up the coast through Granity then over the hills to Karamea and the most northerly road access on the coast. Here there are huge glass houses growing all sorts of vegetables and fruits for the NZ market. You will see the start of the Heaphy Track and have the opportunity to walk amongst the huge Punga tree ferns there.

Day 10. Up the coast again to travel up onto the Plateau to experience the historic coal mining town of Denniston. Amongst the remains are informative displays of life up there. The day will include a journey to the mouth of the Mokihinui River and inland to Seddonville and other old towns in the area.

Day 11. Time to explore Westport and Cape Foulwind and learn something of the history here and how it supported the construction of the Buller River breakwater as the river flows into the Tasman Sea. If time allows then a visit to the Coal Town Museum should be available.

Day 12. Down the Coast to Greymouth with time to allow for the popular walk at the Pancake Rocks. Prior to that you will have seen Charleston where a lot of the country's early business was created on the back of the gold mining that was prominent in this area. After lunch a look around Greymouth before heading down to Hokitika and the Heritage Highway Motels for 2 nights.

Day 13. Time to explore the Hokitika area which once again abounds in gold mining history and had the busiest harbour in the young colonial New Zealand in the mid 1800's. Great shops here too.

Day 14. Inland to cross the Southern Alps via Otira and Arthur's Pass to reach the Canterbury Plains and Geraldine for our last night at Andorra Motels.

Day 15. Return home today.

This should prove to be an interesting departure and already there is interest for this. It will be based  

around self catering motels with local restaurants close by. The itinerary and pricing is being prepared currently so if interested please make contact to ensure you are included to receive updates.

 

EAST COAST NORTH ISLAND. 

Planned to depart on the 15th and return home on 30th March. Accommodation is mostly in hotels with some in motels. Some dinners are also included. 

Day 1. Set to arrive in Wellington late morning to allow time to take in some of the city.

Day 2. Over the Rimutaka Hills today to arrive in the Wairarapa and Martinborough. Next on out to the coast on the edge of Cook Strait and on a clear day spot the South Island. Retracing our journey a little then to our overnight stop in Masterton.

Day 3. Through Pahiatua, Eketahuna, Woodville and Dannevirke to arrive into Hastings. A drive out towards Havelock North and Te Mata Peak passing well known vineyards on the way. Next on to Napier for 2 nights and our hotel is on Marine Parade near the heart of this Art Deco City.

Day 4. Time today to immerse yourself in the culture and sights of the town area including self guided walks on the water front and gardens.

Day 5. Further north to Gisborne for 2 nights. After passing Wairoa we will visit the Mahia Peninsula on this rugged eastern coast with time for a stroll on a beach. Mahia Peninsula is where rockets have been sent into space by the New Zealand company who are having some success at this new venture. We then head over the hills to Poverty Bay and the fruit and vege growing country that it is known for.

Day 6. From our centrally located hotel you can explore the water front and the tributes to Captain Cook and his crew who landed here in 1769. It is possible that some of the statues may have gone in these PC times!

Day 7. To remote Hicks Bay and our hotel with the tremendous views out into the Pacific Ocean. Today we will stop at Tolaga Bay with the opportunity to walk out onto the 600+ metres wharf said to be the longest in the country. Close by is where Cook spent some time. Continue through Maori and European settlements to Tokomaru Bay known for its friendly locals. A call at Te Araroa close to East Cape and the largest Pohutukawa tree in NZ.

Day 8. On to Tauranga. Today we will pass through further Maori settlements with their churches on the coast. Pass through Te Kaha, Opotiki and Whakatane. Should conditions allow White Island will be seen as we pass through avocado and other fruit growing areas. In the afternoon stroll around the waterfront at Whakatane and even Papamoa Beach may be a possibility.

Day 9. To Tairua (opposite Pauanui) for 2 nights at the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula. Stop at Waihi to view the Gold Mine pit next to the main street. Pass through Whangamata to arrive into our destination.

Day 10. 1st stop Hot Water Beach and if tide conditions allow enjoy the hot water bubbling out on the beach. It might encourage you to immerse yourself or have a paddle. Next up to the viewing area over Cathedral Cove and even take in some of the walks around the cliffs. Now onto Cooks Beach and the Passenger Ferry (5 minute ride over the river)  to Whitianga. Mid afternoon back to Tairua.

Day 11. To Rotorua for 2 nights. Through Thames and the most interesting sights around the town. Stop at Hamilton Gardens for lunch and visit the amazing international gardens on the banks of the Waikato River, the country's longest. Via Cambridge it is 2 hours to Rotorua our destination today.

Day 12. Visits to a geothermal area with Maori culture and Rainbow Springs and the kiwi hatchery. Time in the afternoon for you to enjoy the popular city on your own with its interesting places.

Day 13. To Ohakune for 2 nights. The route today is to Taupo and the start of the Waikato and Huka Falls. Around the lake and the Desert Road to Waiouru. On the day and weather conditions allowing mighty views of Mts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. After visiting the Army Museum around to Ohakune, the mountain town.

Day 14. We will decide on the day as to which mountain road to travel onto the slopes of Ruapehu for the views from there over the central Plateau. If conditions allow a chairlift ride up the mountain to a cafe at around 6000ft high. An interesting day is assured if the weather is indeed suitable.

Day 15. Back to Wellington. First stop the memorial at the site of the Tangiwai train accident of Christmas Eve 1953. On through Taihape, Bulls, Feilding and the Kapiti Coast to Wellington, our final night together.

Day 16. Time for home or other travel arrangement.

We currently are finalising the price and other detail for this and that will be sent out to those who already have the preliminary information. Should you be interested please do contact us for that too.  

 

TOP OF THE NORTH ISLAND.

As outlined in the May Bulletin we are still proposing to offer this in September next year. Taking in places including Hamilton, Coromandel, Warkworth & Kawau Island, Whangarei and the Bay of Islands. Further north via Kerikeri & Kaitaia to include 90 Mile Beach and Cape Reinga. Turning south we will cross the Hokianga Harbour to Opononi and the Kauri Forest and the Museum at Matakohe on the way back to Auckland. A day to take some of the sights of the city prior to our journey home the next day.

This one is planned after being cancelled this year due to the pandemic. If the borders do not open to Australia then this may well be a Winter/Spring alternative! If you would like information on this one please make contact so we can record your name for information.

 

AKAROA & CANTERBURY.

Recently Patricia and I were in Christchurch and spent 4 days in Akaroa. It has never been on our schedule to run a departure here before but having spent that period there have been thinking of doing that and now offer one. The route would take us into South Canterbury to do some of the valleys including the drive to Erewhon Station, Mt Peel and Mt Algidus and some of the towns in under the foothills. We would drive through Christchurch and over to Lyttelton and Diamond Harbour prior to Little River then the climb to Hilltop and along the Summit Road (not to be confused with the one overlooking Christchurch) with dramatic views down to Port Levy and Pigeon Bay and down the other side to the impressive Akaroa Harbour.

While in Akaroa for 3 nights you will experience the Black Cat Harbour Cruise and hopefully see the endangered Hectors Dolphins. Free time to wander around this French influenced town. Also a trip to Okane's Bay and its Maori settlement could also be included. On the way out from Akaroa a stop at the famous Barrys Bay Cheese factory shop to sample product and perhaps purchase some of their world renowned cheese and other items. 

Our journey would continue to Little River again around Lake Forsyth with time at Birdlings Flat. After passing by Lake Ellesmere it would be through Lincoln and Leeston to Highway 1 at the Rakaia River then to mid Canterbury again for the final night, probably Ashburton, prior to coming home.

If interested do make contact so as to receive the information and dates when planned to operate.

 

TOP OF THE SOUTH.

Farewell Spit at the top of the South Island will be planned for April after Easter (16th - 19th). Stops in Ashburton, Hanmer Springs,  Motueka, Takaka (4 nights). While up there you will experience the unique Farewell Spit tour as well as a day on the Whanganui Inlet out west and drive down the coast to the Anatori River. Also out to the Abel Tasman National Park at Totaranui. After that 2 nights in Havelock to enable us to drive out to French Pass in the Marlborough Sounds to see D'Urville Island and out into Cook Strait. On the way home an overnight in Kaikoura and Ashburton.

 

STOP PRESS.

 

1. STEWART ISLAND. We are just back from a few days on the Island. It was meant to be a break for us but on seeing what is on offer and after experiencing some of the opportunities are looking at a 4 night option in the Autumn. It will utilise self catering Motels and experience various tours to Ulva Island and an Inlet Cruise and a general look about as well as free time. More detail in the November Bulletin but if interested do let us know so as your name can be recorded for that.

 

2. We have the opportunity to join with an associate operator to visit Nelson in January. You would enjoy Richard's company should you decide to join him. The Itinerary is to overnight in Christchurch, Blenheim (2 nights), Nelson (3 nights), Hanmer Springs, and Ashburton a total of 8 nights. Highlights will include the option of a Whale Watch tour in Kaikoura or free time there. Queen Charlotte Sound cruise from Picton and a the chance for a dip or paddle at the beautiful Kaiteriteri Beach. A full day in Nelson do your own thing based on the Rutherford Hotel in the central city area. The opportunity to experience the Hot Pools in Hanmer Springs. On the way home via Methven, Mayfield and Geraldine. This is a Hotel Tour including cooked breakfast and all dinners. Planned to depart Dunedin on 18th January and returning to the city on the 26th. If you would like the full itinerary and pricing do contact us for that. It is on double, twin share and single room basis with the option of the Whale Watch cruise in Kaikoura.

 

That's our thinking right now. It is to be hoped that there may well be something here that will indeed interest you and perhaps your friends. With all that has happened in the last months you might like the chance to get away and join us somewhere out there in New Zealand. Now perhaps this is the chance and time to do just that. We are keen to invite you to partake in these Explorer departures. It is to be hoped that our country can still stay Covid-19 free so that it can be travelled in safety. Call us if interested. 

 

Regards

Patricia & Allan