As you meander past icy rivers, deep valleys and extensive farmland, lulled by the train’s meditative rhythm, the spectacular Southern Alps are never far out of view. These impressive peaks keep a peaceful, watchful eye on travellers crossing the Waimakariri Basin and Canterbury Plains via the TranzAlpine route – one of the most famous train journeys in New Zealand. A train journey that is yours for the taking with multi-transport, local touring expert Grand Pacific Tours.
Promoting themselves as New Zealand’s Coach Holiday specialist, GPT are also frontrunners when it comes to a unique blend of rail, road and boat. Their assortment of affordable, all-inclusive packages includes a 27 Day Cruise and Coach Trip and a 19-Day Celebrity Solstice Cruise ending with the exploration of the South Island. With all bases and transfers covered, every itinerary feels diverse and comprehensive, every day on tour a gateway to a mixed bag of destinations that are inland and coastal, mountainous and metropolitan. It is no surprise that GPT secure over 200 guaranteed departures every year.
Each leg and mode of transport is comfortable and relaxed, whether you elect to treat yourself to a signature luxury tour, budget with the affordable option, or feed your niche passion on a Special Interest program. Celebrity Solstice cruises circumnavigate the dual islands of New Zealand in sleek, effortless style, with an abundance of lounge areas and world-class dining. All meals are catered for, entertainment is provided and there is ample room to kick back and relax in your deluxe balcony cabin or out on the grassy areas of the top deck. Once you hit the road, the coaches are modern and immaculate with air conditioning, entertainment systems, a restroom and reclining seats for a sneaky snooze if you manage to tire of the postcard-perfect panoramas sprawled just beyond the windows.
Friendly and knowledgeable, a Professional Coach Captain accompanies each tour and offers up a bank of facts, figures and folklore about each pitstop and passing point of note. Different to a guide, your Coach Captain will help with luggage, coordinate hotel check-ins, book optional extras on your behalf and can make extensive recommendations about where to wine and dine or enjoy free time. Some fully-escorted tours include an experienced GPT Guide for the duration, who will go even further above and wider beyond.
You can opt for the whole shebang and sample everything in the buffet by immersing yourself fully in the holiday mindset of a 16 Day Highlight Tour, or 27 Day blend of cruising and coaching. Or slowly savour New Zealand’s formidable list of must-sees one by one and toss a coin between the 9-Day South Island and 8-Day North Island tours. The North promises culture vultures a smorgasbord to sample, starting at the Te Papa National Museum in Wellington, whereas outdoorsy types will slot right in to the natural phenomena of Rotorua and its mud pools and geysers. Luxe lovers will lap up all the trappings of a catamaran cruise through the Bay of Islands (which may or may not include dolphin sightings!). In the south, history buffs and die-hard romantics will be equally enchanted by the gardens, turrets and stables of Larnach Castle. A guided tour will illuminate the thrilling scandals of the historical site’s past, made sweet with a Devonshire Tea. Outdoors, the spectrum of attractions spans from the Waitaki River to Te Anau glow worm caves, an option scenic flight over Fox Glacier the lavish icing on the cake. Trustworthy tourist favourite Milford Sound will not disappoint, particularly after a laidback cruise and picnic lunch in the impressive fjord.
By air, land or water, GPT promises a charming glimpse into what makes New Zealand such a special destination. The smallest taste of this proud island country’s generosity, rich history and untamed wilderness will fuel your wanderlust irreversibly. And if it is generosity, history, wilderness and a little extra zest that you hunger for, Grand Pacific Tours is the way to go.