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Archive for Silver Fern Holidays

March 20, 2017

New Zealand Specialist is newest AITO Member

Silver Fern Holidays is now a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The New Zealand specialist is based in Southwell, Nottinghamshire and has an office in Hamilton on North Island.

“We are delighted to join such a respected organisation,” says founder and managing director John Lightwood. “AITO members share a passion for authenticity, and we are always looking to develop more rewarding New Zealand travel experiences for our clients.”

New for 2017/18 is a focus on Wanaka as an alternative to Queenstown.  Set within Mount Aspiring National Park, the jaw-dropping scenery offers glaciers, river valleys and mountain peaks. The pristine wilderness is also home to 45 native bird species and 400+ species of butterflies and moths.

“Queenstown holds the crown for high-adrenalin activities, but it can get both busy and expensive. Wanaka is where New Zealanders themselves holiday, which says a lot! Set on an equally beautiful lake, this is a fantastic alternative if you are looking for authentic, and less frenetic experiences,” says John

Walking is a personal passion for John Lightwood, who recommends Wanaka for independent and guided hiking. Options range from easy day walks through the Matukituki Valley to challenges like the  Rob Roy Glacier Track walk easy to arrange from Wanaka.

Helicopter access to the mountains, including landings on snow, and challenges on the Rob Roy Glacier are also possible, as is jet-boating on the Matukituki River.  Eco-encounters with local guides are recommended, including a boat trip to Mou Waho island on Lake Wanaka to see native birds.

Wanaka accommodation featured by Silver Fern Holidays includes Criffel Peak B&B where blueberry pancakes are a breakfast speciality, and the luxurious Maple Lodge which has seven boutique bedrooms and a guest spa.

Sample package: A 14-day independent tour of South Island, with two nights in in Wanaka, costs from £3199 per person. Includes car hire, twin-share accommodation and breakfast each day, as well as maps and tour-planning. Excludes international flights.

Optional activities that can be pre-booked as part of the trip include a day’s guided walking along the Bridle Track through beech forest along the Makarora River to the Haast Pass, returning via the Blue Pools (from £150 per person). An amazing day starting with jet-boating on the Matukituki River, followed by a helicopter flight into the mountains to land at snow level and ending with a 4WD safari, starts at £470 per person.

Silver Fern Holidays 01636 813 544,

January 24, 2017

Discovering Maori Culture with Silver Fern Holidays

For Silver Fern Holidays, one of the key aspects of a holiday to New Zealand is the country’s indigenous people – the Maoris – and their culture.

This year New Zealand marks the 150th anniversaries of both the establishment of ‘native’ schools for Maori children, and the first Maori seats in the country’s parliament. “Much has changed since 1867 but Maoris are still disenfranchised in some respects, despite making up 15% of the population,” says managing director John Lightwood.

“We believe discovering Maori culture is one of the most rewarding things about a trip to New Zealand, so our escorted tours and tailor-made itineraries include opportunities to learn about, and engage with, Maoris.”

The company’s Small Group Journeys – escorted tours for up to 16 travellers – include experiences such as a walk in the Waipoua Kauri forest with a Maori guide; a wander through the geothermal Waimangu Volcanic Valley; a welcome to a Marae (meeting house) and hangi (traditional meal); seeing greenstone carved in Hokitika and discovering the Ngai Tahu tribe’s ancient artwork at the Te Ana Maori Rock Art Centre.

Tailor-made fly-drive itineraries can include any of the above, plus B&B stays with Maori families, whale-watching on Maori-run boat trips as well as recommendations for attractions like Wellington’s world-class museum Te Papa, the historic Treaty Grounds at Waitangi, or the mud pools of a Maori-owned spa in Rotorua.

“Jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery may be the first thing people think of but there’s nothing like seeing New Zealand through the eyes of the Maori people, who maintain close ties with the natural environment,” says John.

Escorted Small Group Journeys start at £2325 for a 10 day tour of North Island including coach travel, accommodation, some meals, sight-seeing and entrance fees.  Tailor-made holidays start at £2495 per person, including car hire and 14 nights’ accommodation.  In both cases, prices are per person based on two people sharing a room; excludes international flights.

Silver Fern Holidays 01636 813 544,


December 20, 2016

New Zealand specialist arranges post-quake Itineraries

Destination specialist Silver Fern Holidays has re-arranged itineraries for clients affected by the earthquake damage to South Island’s Highway 1 in the Kaikoura area.

“It’s been a busy month,” says managing director John Lightwood, “and it will be a while before the coast road and rail routes are repaired, but it’s important to stress that South Island is very much ‘open for business’.

“We are routing both our independent travellers and escorted tours from Picton and Nelson south via Murchison to Hanmer Springs, and then on to Christchurch.”

Tucked into the east side of the Southern Alps, Hanmer Springs is a rewarding diversion! Surrounded by forest and snow-capped mountains, there are thermal pools to relax in and spa treatments to enjoy, while activities range from horse-riding and mountain biking to bungy jumping and skiing.

Hanmer Springs is two to three hours’ drive from Christchurch, where there is always something new to try – new cafes, restaurants and shops, as well as longstanding attractions to enjoy, like the River Avon and the Botanic Gardens.

And 90 minutes’ drive south of Christchurch is the wildlife-rich Banks peninsula with some superb boat trips out of the pretty town of Akaroa.

Expert-led small-scale nature cruises offer opportunities to spot whales and dolphins. When conditions are right, it may even be possible to swim alongside friendly Hectors dolphins. This is also a great place to see pelagic seabirds such as albatross, petrels and shearwaters, as well as Little Blue Penguins, and numerous waymarked trails are rewarded by superb sea views.

Akaroa is unusual in New Zealand for being settled by French whalers in the mid 19th century. While this was a short-lived colonisation, some street names in the little town still bear French names. Akaroa also offers quirky sightseeing from the sculpture garden at the historic Giant House to Okain Bay’s Maori and Colonial Museum.

Silver Fern Holidays’ South Island trips incorporating stays in Hanmer Springs and Christchurch start at £1995 per person (twin share) for a 14-day itinerary. Excludes international flights.

Silver Fern Holidays 01636 813 544,


December 12, 2016

New Zealand Travel News for 2017 from Silver Fern Holidays

New Zealand specialist Silver Fern Holidays has devised three new itineraries for independent tours of the country in 2017.

Underlining its tailor-made and special interest expertise, the holidays are:

  • A road trip by Harley Davidson motorbike
  • A walking holiday that includes the Pouakai Crossing in Taranaki region
  • A nature and wildlife tour of South Island

The motorbike holiday is a memorable 23-day trip for Harley fans, which can be adapted for shorter holidays.  The full route combines some of the finest – almost empty – roads in New Zealand and journeys of between 200-350kms each day with the country’s un-missable sights from the Bay of Islands to the Southern Alps. It also includes Invercargill, the home of ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ where fans gather every year for the Burt Munro Challenge. The full trip costs from £3290.

The company’s Easy Walks in New Zealand itinerary now includes the option to experience the country’s latest great walk: the Pouakai Crossing in Egmont National Park. This is a full-day hike across volcanic terrain dominated by the cone of Mount Taranaki. It is a rewarding alternative to the busy Tongariro Crossing to the east, and managing director John Lightwood – who is an experienced walker himself – says the route offers just as much dramatic scenery, without the crowds.  The 24-day Easy Walks of New Zealand holiday costs from £2775.

The new 14-day Nature and Wildlife tour includes opportunities to get up close and personal with kiwis, Royal Albatross, yellow-eyed penguins, whales, dolphins and fur seals. Set against some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, from the dark skies of the Mount Cook National Park to the remote nature reserve of Mou Wahu Island on Lake Wanaka, this is a must for nature-lovers. From £1995.

All prices quoted above are per person and exclude international flights, but include twin-share accommodation in small hotels, B&Bs and home-stays; breakfasts; all travel within New Zealand (car, bike, coach or rail where appropriate) and route-planning.

Silver Fern Holidays 01636 813 544,


October 3, 2016

New Zealand by Harley Davidson – in Guy Martin’s tyre tracks

Inspired by speed star Guy Martin’s recently-announced visit, travel company Silver Fern Holidays has created a new tour of New Zealand by Harley Davidson for motorbike fans who may want to follow in Martin’s tyre tracks.

Martin, whose ‘Speed’ series is on Channel 4, Sundays at 7.30pm, will travel to New Zealand for the first time for the annual Burt Munro Classic (24-27 November 2016).

“The Burt Munro Classic is New Zealand’s largest motorcycle rally, with races in and around Invercargill on South Island,” says Silver Fern Holidays’ managing director John Lightwood. “Guy is shipping his own 320hp turbo-charged bike over to race on Oreti Beach where Burt Munro tested his ‘World’s Fastest Indian’ motorbike in the 1950s and 60s.

“New Zealand, with almost empty roads and spectacular scenery, is a fantastic destination for bike fans, and this new 23-day touring itinerary by Harley Davidson combines the best sights with fantastic rides of 200-350kms a day,” says Lightwood.

The itinerary starts in Auckland and covers both North and South Islands. Route highlights include riding through the Hokianga rainforest to Cape Reinga, across the volcanic Tongariro plateau, beside the ocean at Kaikoura, over the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass to travel along majestic Fjordland roads , with an overnight in Invercargill to pay homage to Burt Munro before heading back up through Dunedin to Christchurch, where the trip ends.

Key destinations from Rotorua to Abel Tasman National Park, Queenstown and Milford Sound are incorporated into the itinerary, so that travellers not only enjoy the best rides but the best sights New Zealand has to offer.

The new 23-day itinerary costs from £3290 per person, based on two people riding one Harley Davidson bike, with an initial training session, route maps and notes provided.  All motorbikes are late model Harleys, with panniers for clothes and personal effects. Fuel is not included.

Bed and breakfast accommodation, again on the basis of two sharing a room, is included at recommended boutique B&Bs, lodges, farm-stays and hotels.

Price excludes international flights, which can be arranged as part of an ATOL-bonded package.

Silver Fern Holidays: 01636 813 544,




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