Image: Champagne Pool
Tina J. Liddle  /  Special to
The “Champagne Pool” at Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland park, Rotorua, New Zealand.
updated 3/20/2008 11:31:25 AM ET 2008-03-20T15:31:25

The Real Deal: Six nights' lodging, bus transportation, breakfasts, two dinners, park entrance fees, and lodging taxes for $765 per person.

When: July 11, 23, Aug. 4, 16, 28, Sept. 9, 21, 2008; add $10 for Apr. 6, 18, 30, May 12, 24, June 17, 29; $20 for Oct. 3; $24 for Mar. 25; additional dates available in late 2008 and early 2009 at higher rates.

The fine print: Six nights' lodging, bus transportation, breakfasts, two dinners, park entrance fees, and lodging taxes are included. Airfare and airport transfers are additional. Gratuities of $16 to $32 not included. Save $65 per person if you agree to quad occupancy. Based on double occupancy; no single supplement if you're willing to share a room; otherwise, $275. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: By availability. Take an additional discount of $89 if you book at least four months in advance of your departure.

The New Zealand Northern Highlights Reverse Start Wellington package is run by Contiki Holidays, a tour company that only accepts travelers who are between 18 and 35 years old for this trip. The package includes a mix of organized tours, optional side trips, and free time.

Organized programs include a visit to Tongariro National Park, with a ride through one of the otherworldly landscapes made famous in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, such as the active volcano Mount Ruapehu; a visit to Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake; a city tour of Rotorua; a stop at Huka Falls; a visit to the glowworm caves of Waitomo and the gorgeous kauri trees in the surrounding forest; and a final stop at Auckland's harbor. The only tours with a guide that are included in the package price are two city-orientation tours

Optional activities include Zorbing ($35) and luge rides on the world's first commercial luge track ($25).

The package houses travelers for one night in the 73-room business hotel, Abel Tasman; and the rest of the night at hostel-style resorts and lodges.

Note: Contiki sells packages in more than 40 countries worldwide, so expect some of your tripmates to be from countries other than the U.S. The company was founded by a New Zealander and prides itself on its tours of its home country.

As noted, airport transfers are not included. The least expensive yet still efficient way to get from the airport to the Abel Tasman Hotel on arrival is the Stagecoach Flyer bus (for $6) from outside the airline terminal to Courtenay Place; then you will have a short walk. A taxi or shuttle will cost $20 to $30. At the end of the trip, the best way to get from the final drop-off point in Auckland to the airport is the city Airbus, which departs around the corner of the hotel every 20 minutes and costs $15.

Getting there: This is a land-only package. International multi-city tickets for an arrival in Wellington and a departure from Auckland are not included. In a recent search on Kayak, round-trip airfare for the end of April were $991 from San Francisco (Air New Zealand), $1,091 from Los Angeles (Air New Zealand), $1,230 from Chicago (multiple airlines), and $1,305 from New York City (Air New Zealand).

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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