A grand adventure in New Zealand & Australia

Black Tomato x Agatha Christie

Agatha in Australasia

After departing from South Africa, Agatha made her way to the lustrous landscapes of New Zealand and Australia. This would be a bountiful adventure indeed, jam-packed with unfamiliar sights and exhilarating cultural sights for this nascent globetrotting author.

She would walk through the volcanic landscapes of Rotorua, meeting local Māori and trekking – as she put it – “hard”. She’d spot red kangaroos and “meditative emus”. Her Australasian experience was, first and foremost, an aesthetic one; commenting adoringly on the “paint-box” colours and hills that looked like they’d been sketched on drawing paper. She would call New Zealand “the most beautiful country” she’d ever seen. But – as she put it – there was still time to work, having “done some writing of short stories during the last few days”.

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The trip

Inspired by Agatha’s journey through New Zealand and Australia, this fifteen-night trip follows closely in her footsteps.

From £18,990 per person based on two travelling

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From Melbourne to Mornington

Posting up at the Park Hyatt Melbourne, this is your chance to drink up the cosmopolitan charm of this eye-opening continent. Dining at the award-winning Raddi restaurant and bar, you’ll have plenty of time to wander through the city’s “flat white” culture of shopping arcades, bustling streets, and curious bars. Find a moment to recover your senses at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Agatha herself opined on the “extraordinary aspect” of the city’s landscapes, parks and greenery.

During her stay, Agatha enjoyed the sights and distractions of sumptuous St. Kilda – as will you. From the Palais Theatre and Luna Park to the cafes of on-trend Acland Street. Looping back to the city, you’ll visit the Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit that circles Albert Park Lake – a nod to the motor tour that Agatha took of the city.

Before departing, you’ll make your way to Mornington Peninsula – enjoying a gourmet odyssey inspired by Agatha’s culinary experiences during her Australian trip.

Into the Dandenong Ranges

For Agatha, this was an opportunity to rhapsodise on exotica and beauty. Boarding Puffing Billy – one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world – you’ll follow in her footsteps to the magnificent Dandenong Ranges National Park, surging forward through the original mountain track between Belgrave and Lakeside. For Agatha, this was exhilarating: “I rode part of the way on the engine!”.

At the nearby Alfred Nicholas Gardens, you’ll have a blissful moment to commune with nature – feeling the very same surprise that leaps off the pages of Agatha’s letters. Azaleas and orchids. Ferns and maples. “Things”, explained Agatha, “that are gorgeous”. A bright picnic lunch will be followed by tours of quant mountain villages like Sassafras and Olinda. This was the furthest and most remote region she’d visited yet.

From Hobart to the Hazard Mountains

Arriving in Hobart, Agatha met Fijians (whom she loved) and a traveller obsessed with dehydrated foods (him she liked less). Your own trip will see you post up at the Henry Jones Art Hotel (which Agatha visited when it was a jam factory), from where you’ll enjoy Hobart’s harbour and its passion for ultra-contemporary artwork.

There’s time to visit the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – a place described by its owner as a “subversive adult Disneyland”. From here, you’ll head to Saffire Freycinet – with two spectacular nights to enjoy the natural beauty of the peninsula, with the pink-tinted Hazard Mountains and Wineglass Bay as your backdrop. There’s much time to enjoy the local activities, including beekeeping, Pelican Bay canoeing, stargazing, Schouten Island, Saffire peninsula fishing, golf, and quad bikes. And more.

Sydney and the Blue Mountains

From your elegant base at the Park Hyatt (overlooking Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House), you’ll enjoy all the fruits of this strikingly cosmopolitan city. With a private guide, you’ll enjoy everywhere from Woolloomooloo to Taronga Zoo, the bars and bays of the Harbourside, and the mighty cliff views of Watsons Bay. At Bondi Beach (you know the one), you’ll have a chance to bathe in absolute glory. Old-world pubs and private art galleries are all at your fingertips.

Leaving the city, you’ll make for the majestic Blue Mountains – a place that Agatha described in rapturous tones: “cobalt blue, they looked as if they had been put on a piece of drawing paper, straight from one’s paint box”. Morning tea, the National Park, a hike to Wentworth Falls and the view from Princes Lookout. You’ll dine delightfully at the historic village of Leura, before taking in the iconic vistas of the Three Sisters.

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Zooming to New Zealand

Posting up at Otahuma Lodge, a lavish, 19th century country estate moments from the city of Christchurch, this is a chance to soak up the history of New Zealand and its wondrous wilderness culture. Stained glass, Queen Anne architecture, wood-burning fireplaces and intricate woodworked carvings. There’s time for candlelit dinners, 100-year-old gardens, and horseback riding – a stunning reflection of the artistry of Agatha’s era.

On the next day, you’ll follow Agatha west across the Canterbury Plains – all in sight of the South Alps. Walk the track to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls, enjoying lush beech forests and spectacular waterfalls. You’ll wind up across the Otira Viaduct, before arriving at the sublime shores of Lake Kaniere.

Go west for gold

On New Zealand’s West Coast, you’ll settle in at Rimu Lodge and enjoy the fruits of nearby Hokitika, which Agatha herself took delight in exploring, marvelling at the “deep blue water” and “great mountains” that overlook it. You’ll join your private guide on a tour to historic Nelson, learning about its role in the gold rush of the 1860s. From the jade-town of Greymouth to the Pancake Rocks – unforgettable limestone formations that date back 30 million years.

Via Buller Gorge, you’ll make your way to Edenhouse – a sublime lodge nestled in the enchanting Orinoco Valley; perfectly positioned to enjoy the galleries of Nelson (Red Art Gallery, Hoglund Glass, and Mapua among them). Art is at the very heart of this cultured and inspiring region – a fitting hotbed of creativity to match the spirted writing of Agatha Christie herself.

Volcanoes and glow-worms in Rotorua

From the South Island to the North Island, you’ll transfer to the 1920s Huka Lodge – consistently ranked among the best in the world – from where you’ll have the perfect base from which to explore the wonders of Rotorua. It was here that Agatha explored the “great quaking boiling mud pits” and hot pools of the area. On your own private tour, you’ll visit Ohinemutu Village and learn about Maori culture in this sublime region. Known for its historic volcanism, learn about the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886 – of how it buried villages and terraces have been excavated in subsequent years.

From here, you’ll skip across to Auckland (your final destination) via the Waitomo Glow-worm Caves, a place of limestone caves and beguiling grottos. At its end, you’ll embark on an underground boat tour; gliding silently along the starry wonderland of the Waitomo River.

Where you’ll visit

Over the course of 15 nights, you’ll track Agatha’s travels as you make from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula, before heading to Tasmania and onto New Zealand’s north and south islands

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