This 10-day tour offers a relaxed investigation of the visual arts and architecture of New Zealand’s North Island. Our journey takes us across dramatic mountain ranges, to centres of volcanic activity, along stunning coastlines and through rolling green hills. We visit sites of Maori heritage as well as several privately-owned art collections and sculpture parks. The tour begins in Wellington, the harbourside capital, before heading up the Pacific coast to Napier and across the centre of the island to Lake Taupo and Rotorua, and culminates with four days in and around Auckland.
World-famous private sculpture parks and private gardens
Remarkable architecture, ranging from art deco Napier to cutting-edge contemporary design
Fine landscapes – harbours and coastlines, mountain ranges, lakes and islands
Dramatic volcanic and geothermal activity in the centre of the island
Contemporary and traditional Maori culture and arts
A day at Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park
Private visits to Connells Bay sculpture parks and the Wallace art collection
A full day on Waiheke Island in Auckland harbour
Scenic drives through mountains, volcanic landscapes and verdant countryside
Visits to privately-owned and public gardens
Lunches and dinners at excellent local restaurants
A concert or play in Auckland
Days 1–2: Wellington’s cultural heritage at the Te Papa Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Katherine Mansfield Museum, tour the Beehive and Botanic Gardens.
Days 3–4: Cross the Rimutaka Mountains, visit the Wairarapa wine region and explore the art deco architecture of Napier.
Days 5–7: Lake Taupo, Huka Falls and the volcanic landscape of Rotorua.
Days 8–10: Three days in Auckland visiting the Wallace Arts Centre, Gibbs Farm and Ayrlies Garden. Explore Waiheke Island.
There are currently no places available on this tour. If you would like to be notified if a place becomes available on tour, please register your details above.
Qantas and Air New Zealand have regular flights into Wellington and out of Auckland. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Day 1 | Thursday March 15: Arrive Wellington
We suggest you book a flight that arrives in Wellington in the mid-afternoon. It is a short taxi ride from the airport to our downtown hotel. Meet your fellow tour participants and the tour leader in the hotel bar in the early evening before walking to a restaurant in nearby Courtenay Place for our welcome dinner. (D)
Day 2 | Friday March 16: Wellington heritage
A walking tour from the botanic gardens above the city down to the waterfront introduces us to the history of Wellington from its Maori origins to its establishment as a profit-making colony by Edward Gibbon Wakefield and later the national capital. In the afternoon we visit the impressive Te Papa Museum, across the road from the hotel. A museum specialist takes us through the galleries of Maori heritage and the early colonial exhibitions, to give us a sense of the country’s earliest years. There is also an excellent ANZAC gallery to visit. The later afternoon is free to call in at the small National Portrait Gallery or visit other exhibitions. There may be the opportunity to catch a show at the excellent Circa Theatre, adjacent to our hotel. (B)
Day 3 | Saturday March 17: Wairarapa
We farewell Wellington by visiting the summit of Mount Victoria, overlooking Cook’s Strait and Wellington Harbour. We then make the spectacular crossing of the Rimutaka Mountains north to Martinborough, in the heart of the Wairarapa district. The pinot noir produced in Wairarapa has an international reputation and we will get a chance to sample it at a local outlet. Our lunch stop is at the Puhaka Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre, where we can see Tuatara, Kiwi and other native New Zealand fauna. In the afternoon we travel north through classic New Zealand sheep country, arriving in Napier in the early evening. Dinner is at Mint Restaurant, a local favourite. (B, L, D)
Day 4 | Sunday March 18: Art Deco and Hawke’s Bay
Napier, on New Zealand’s Pacific coast, boasts a remarkable architectural heritage. An earthquake in 1931 destroyed most of the city centre, but it was rebuilt immediately in a consistent Art Deco style. Today Napier is recognised as one of the densest concentrations of small scale Art Deco architecture anywhere in the world. This morning a local guide takes us on a walking tour of the city centre. After some free time to visit the regional art gallery and stroll the seaside promenade (also Art Deco), we head by coach to the Art Deco residential suburb of Marewa and the nearby National Tobacco Factory, and onto Hastings, built mainly in the Spanish Mission style. Hastings is at the heart of the Hawke’s Bay wine district. With a climate similar to that of Bordeaux, the area is known for its sauvignon blanc and syrah varieties, which we have the opportunity to evaluate for ourselves at a wine tasting. (B)
Day 5 | Monday March 19: Lake Taupo
A morning’s coach travel takes us across the Kaweka Range to Lake Taupo. Here, we visit the small but interesting local history museum, and take a short boat cruise to see some impressive contemporary Maori rock carvings on the lake shores. We continue to Rotorua, stopping briefly at the dramatic Huka Falls on the way. This evening we visit the Te Puia hot springs and geyser park, observing this natural spectacle and learning about local Maori history and culture. (B, D)
Day 6 | Tuesday March 20: Rotorua
We spend the morning exploring the Waimangu ‘volcanic valley’ with a local guide. The valley was formed through dramatic volcanic activity in 1886. We first take a path past craters, lakes and hot springs before joining a short cruise on Lake Rotomahana, with fumaroles and other evidence of the 1886 eruption. The afternoon is free and you can choose to visit the excellent Rotorua Museum, be pampered in a hot spring or take the helicopter ride to White Island, an active stratovolcano in the Bay of Plenty. (B)
Day 7 | Wednesday March 21: The Bay of Plenty & Ayrlies garden
This morning we head north to the shores of the Bay of Plenty and the attractive town of Tauranga. After calling in at the local art gallery, we continue north to the southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula and on to Ayrlies Garden at Whitford, on the outskirts of Auckland. The garden and its founder, the octogenarian Beverley McConnell, featured in the TV series Around the Worldin80 Gardens with popular British broadcaster Monty Don. The 15-hectare garden began life in 1964 and today it is rated a Garden of International Significance by the New Zealand Gardens Trust. We continue to Auckland in the early evening. (B)
Day 8 | Thursday March 22: Gibbs Farm
In 1991 Alan and Jenny Gibbs purchased a stunning estate overlooking Kaipara Harbour, about 50km north of Auckland. Over a period of 20 years they commissioned large site-specific sculptures from some of the world’s leading artists, including Andy Goldsworthy, Sol LeWitt, Anish Kapoor and Richard Serra. A visit to Gibbs Farm, usually closed to the public, is a wonderful experience and the combination of coastline, rolling green hills and truly world-class art is an intoxicating one. We return to Auckland in the afternoon, with the intention of catching an orchestral concert or play this evening. (B, picnic L)
Day 9 | Friday March 23: Auckland Gallery and Waiheke
Auckland has a vibrant visual arts scene, and we spend the day exploring it. Our first stop is the Auckland Art Gallery, home to a celebrated collection of 19th-century Maori portraits as well as more contemporary works. We go behind the scenes, visiting the gallery’s well-regarded conservation department. In the early afternoon we take the 45-minute ferry ride across Auckland Harbour to Waiheke Island. This idyllic island has wineries, secluded beaches and a number of art centres. We visit the Connell’s Bay Sculpture Park on the eastern tip of the island, where the owner takes us on a walking tour of their excellent collection. We end the day with a sunset dinner at the Mudbrick Vineyard, enjoying the spectacular views back to Auckland. We return to Auckland in the evening. (B, D)
Day 10 | Saturday March 24: Auckland museum and departure
After a late check out, we head through some of the city’s best suburbs to visit the Auckland Museum and its excellent collection of Maori history and art. We then head to Auckland airport. We suggest you book a return flight to Australia after 4.30pm. (B)
Holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education. He is a director of Academy Travel and leads tours to Europe, Scandinavia, the US & Australia.
Robert Veel is a cultural historian with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, the USA, Scandinavia and Turkey. He has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, architecture and music, and is a founding director of Academy Travel.
Robert holds a BA, Dip. Ed and M.Ed, all from the University of Sydney. He worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney before a long stint at the University’s Centre for Continuing Education, lecturing in Italian history and culture and working as Assistant Director. Robert continues to teach occasionally in Continuing Education courses.
Robert’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century. In Italy he has led many tours focusing on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. In the United States he likes to focus on the founding of the Republic and the Gilded Age of the early 20th century. In Scandinavia he is particularly interested in national identity and its role in Scandinavian literature, design and architecture. Robert speaks fluent Italian.
Robert led his first tour to Italy in 1990 and has not looked back! He has led more than 50 tours and designed many of Academy Travel’s most popular tours, including Sicily, New York, Rome and Venice residential tours, and our Scandinavia tours. More recently Robert led the first offering of Academy Travel’s tours to Tasmania and New Zealand.
We asked Robert, what do you enjoy most about leading tours?
“I really enjoy travelling with like-minded, interested travellers who are up for a bit of an intellectual adventure. It’s often the unexpected things that create the ‘shared joy’ of group travel”, says Robert “a wonderful, but little-known painting, a great performance or a fabulous meal. These are the things we travel for.”
“Over the years travellers have commented on my seemingly boundless enthusiasm. It’s true that I am curious about most things – people, places, history and artistic expression. There’s a kind of alchemy when this enthusiasm rubs off on others – hopefully with a bit of useful information as well!”
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.
There are currently no places available on this tour. A place on the waitlist is not a confirmed place on tour. If you would like to be notified if a place becomes available on tour, please register your details.
There are currently no places available on this tour. A place on the waitlist is not a confirmed place on tour. If you would like to be notified if a place becomes available on tour, please register your details below.
Please keep me informed about the next departure of this tour.
Hold a Place
Thank you for your interest in this tour. We are happy to hold a tentative place for seven days while you make your final arrangements to come on tour.
Sign up to our mailing list for tour updates and latest news.