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Groups Destination Focus: NEW ZEALAND

Long been thought of as an “easy, do-it-yourself” place to travel, New Zealand has now been “rediscovered” by group travellers! Home to “Middle Earth,” the country’s idyllic landscapes of vibrant, green hills dotted with sheep, pristine beaches, towering mountains, and glacial-fed streams surrounded by lush rainforests, still conjure up images of peace, solitude, and safety… and still exist in abundance. However, it is also the unique activities born from these assets that sets New Zealand apart for the group traveller.

For foodies, how about a private tour to visit local artisan cheese and bread makers, creameries, boutique wineries, and even the local fruit grower? For active Boomers, how about playing a round of golf or two at private, exclusive courses or walking for the day along a fern-laden trail only known by the locals? Movie buffs can discover Hobbiton Movie Set or explore the hidden locales made famous in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies. Sports enthusiasts can cheer along with rugby-mad Kiwis at an All Blacks game. These are all special interest activities that can only be organized for people travelling in groups, and GroupsOnly by Goway has the experience and expertise to make them happen!

Here are some of our favorite experiential “Kiwi-style” activities for group travellers:

Cruising on Auckland Harbour
Known as the “City of Sails,” there is no better place to set sail than on Auckland’s beautiful Inner Harbour with its steady winds and calm, sparkling waters. There is plenty of room for groups on the large 50-ft monohull yacht, Pride of Auckland, which sets sail 3 times a day for lunch, late afternoon, and evening dinner cruises. Passengers can sit back and relax in the sheer beauty of it all, or, for any keen sailors, they can help the professional crew steer the yacht and trim the sails! With Auckland as New Zealand’s major international gateway, a sailing adventure is a great way to start or finish any trip Downunder.

Sample Group Itinerary:
The Way the World Should Be: New Zealand Rediscovered

Pride-of-Auckland-Sailing, New Zealand
Auckland skyline

A Warm Invitation from the Hobbits of Middle Earth
Nowhere else in the world but New Zealand will your group be able to experience the “real” Middle-Earth! Created as a set for the making of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Hobbiton and the Shire were rebuilt in 2009 for the filming of the three Hobbit movies. Situated approximately one hour from Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, the visit includes not only a guided tour of the movie set, including views of hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn and the Mill, but also a drive through a picturesque 1,250-acre sheep farm with spectacular views – many of which will be recognizable from the movies. The best way to finish off the group tour is to meet at the Green Dragon Inn for a hearty ale and some traditional English fayre, just like the Hobbits, who would gather in the bar to chatter about the day’s events.

Suggested Half Day Tour:
Hobbiton (Near Rotorua)

Yellow Hobbit Hole, Hobbiton, New Zealand
Yellow Hobbit Hole

Culture and Nature in Harmony at Te Puia
4 hours south of Auckland is the unique city of Rotorua, a geothermal centre and a cultural hub for the Maori people. It is a must see stop on any group itinerary to not only experience the spouting geysers, the bubbling mud pools, and warm geothermal pools and ponds that create a kaleidoscope of colour, but also to immerse one’s self, if only for a short time, in to the fascinating Maori culture. One of our favorite activities for groups is the Te Puia Steambox “lunch and learn” at the Te Puia geothermal site at Te Whakarewarewa, in the heart of Rotorua. Here we discover the distinctive flavours of a traditionally-cooked steambox hangi. We choose our food items, place them in our “steambox”, and into an active steam vent they go! While they are cooking, we join our informative Maori guide for a tour of the valley and the adjoining Maori Arts & Crafts Institute. When our lunch is ready, we enjoy it al fresco in front of one of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest spouting geysers!

Sample Group Itinerary:
New Zealand Wonderland

Whakarewarewa Geyser at Te Pui Thermal Park in Geothermal Valley of Rotorua, New Zealand
Whakarewarewa Geyser at Te Pui Thermal Park in Rotorua

A Welcoming Cellar Door Awaits in Wine Country
Whether it’s in the Wairarapa region north of Wellington on the North Island, or on the South Island in the wine-producing areas around Blenheim, Christchurch, and Queenstown, a welcoming cellar door awaits any group wanting to sniff, swirl, and sip the famous wines of New Zealand, especially their Sauvingnon Blancs and Pinot Noirs! A typical day of touring in wine country includes visits to 4 or 5 boutique wineries for tastings, touring of the facilities, and a relaxing lunch at one of the wineries. For those “wanna be” sommeliers, we will arrange for the group to meet with the vintner for a Q & A session, a “behind the scenes” tour of the winery, or maybe a lesson in pairing wines with different food choices – the options are limitless!

Sample Group Itinerary:
Gourmet Wine Tour of New Zealand

Vineyards and Wineries in New Zealand
New Zealand vineyards

Get Your Group Moving in Queenstown
Not only is Queenstown famous for its magnificent scenery and its magical setting along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, it is also famous for its active lifestyle, and the choices for the group traveller are tremendous. Enjoy guided walking tours along the lake shore or into the surrounding mountain ranges, jetboating on the Shotover River, scenic helicopter rides, white water rafting, zip-lining, mountain biking, bike safaris, bungy jumping, golfing galore, and even lake cruising on the historic TSS Earnslaw. For groups with one specific interest (eg. walking, golfing, or cycling), we are experts at designing the itinerary to best fit their interest, age level, budget, and time frame.

Sample Group Itinerary:
New Zealand Golf Tour

Bungy Jumping Off Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown, New Zealand
Bungy jumping off Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown

No group is too big, too small, or too unusual for the tour planning experts in Goway’s dedicated GroupsOnly division!

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