- Passionate Kiwi guides
- 23 nights in high-end hostel accommodation, 1 night shared cultural experience (dorm share, upgrades available)
- Small groups, maximum 16
- Orientation tour of every location
- Comfortable bus transport
- Cross Cook Strait on the Interislander ferry
- Continental breakfast every day
- Fish and chip dinner with Bay of Islands views
- Traditional Maori hangi dinner
- Learn a haka and learn to weave flax with a loca tribe
- Carve your own pounamu/jade pendant in Franz Josef
- Learn to paddle a waka (Maori war canoe) in Abel Tasman
WHERE WE VISIT
- Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
- Abel Tasman National Park
- 7 National Parks
- Waitangi Treaty Grounds
- Hundertwasser Toilets, Kawakawa
- Maungawhau/Mount Eden
- Cathedral Cove
- Huka Falls
- Matairangi/Mount Victoria
- Church of the Good Shepard
- Tekapo Dark Sky Reserve
- Franz Josef
- Pancake Rocks of Punakaiki
- Abel Tasman National park
- Upgrade your accommodation to a private room, for $2199. Please note - there are 2 nights on this tour where private accommodation upgrades are not available due to limited availability: Day 7 (Murupara) and Day 13 (MacKenzie Country). In special circumstances, arrangements may be possible.
- Optional activities available at an extra cost
Why do we love this
We love how much you get to see of New Zealand on this tour - from North to South with a few secret spots thrown in!
WHAT TO EXPECT
Be amazed by spectacular glaciers, majestic mountain ranges and crystal clear blue water. Absorb the beauty of New Zealand's amazing landscapes, experience the traditional Maori culture and let the city of Queenstown take your breath away. This trip offers it all!
This New Zealand wide tour starts and ends in Auckland and covers all the highlights in 24 unforgettable days. Get ready for secluded beaches, jaw-dropping scenery, Maori culture, mountain ranges, lush rainforests - and more adventure activities than you can ever imagine!
Must-do events, such as a Maori Cultural night, Queenstown Gondola ride, 'Tiki' pendant carving experience and more are included.
Your trip starts early in the morning, so you can opt to book accommodation in Auckland the night before the tour. Then you only have to walk downstairs on day one. A stress-free morning. Likewise, you can book an extra night for when we get back, so you are not in a rush once you end the trip.
Upgrading your accommodation to a 2-person private room costs $1999. The cost is per room, so if you share the room with someone else, you can split the cost between the two of you.
Day 1: Auckland to Paihia
Breakfast and dinner included.
This morning meet your guide and group for tasty breakfast and introductions. Hop on the bus for a leisurely drive to the subtropical "Winterless North".
The Northland region is home to some ancient and impressive kauri forests, and you'll stroll through these today. Check out Tane Mahiuta, the hugest tree of them all! At over 1250 years old and over 51 metres tall, he will take your breath away.
You'll also visit Hikiange Harbour, known for its150-metre high dunes. If the weather is good, you can try sandboarding down these monsters into the beautiful water.
Later, head to Paihia where you'll enjoy the sunset and feast on fish and chips. This is a jewel in the Bay of Islands, and the views don't get much better than this!
Day 2: Paihia
There are more than 140 islands dotted around the coastline here, so it's up to you how you spend your day!
Hit the water to discover the coves and beaches and take a cruise through natural rock archways and dolphin pods. You can even swim or snorkel with these beauties.
If you want to stay on land, take a trip to Cape Regina, the northernmost tip of New Zealand. Here you can see where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide, a truly unforgettable sight.
For the thrill-seekers, take a flight above the ocean on a parasailing adventure.
Day 3: Paihia to Auckland
Today, take a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and discover a piece of New Zealand history. The 35-metre carved waka (ceremonial war canoe) is a must-see.
Later, after lunch, wave goodbye to the Bay of Island before a very special rest stop in Kawakawa. Check out the grass-roofed, mosaic-covered Hundertwasser Toilets. Crazy!
There are some beautiful waterfalls around this area if you know where to look - and luckily your guide does! Stop off and check out the natural beauty on your way to Auckland.
You'll travel along the Northland's east coast, full of stunning beaches and coastal walks. There'll be time for a swim so keep your bathers handy.
Later, arrive in the city of Auckland for the night.
Day 4: Auckland to Coromandel
Spend some time exploring hilly Auckland this morning. Many of these hills are volcanic cones, and you'll have the chance to walk up one of the most famous - Maungwhau. Also known as Mount Eden, you'll catch 360-degree views of both the city and sea from here.
Later, head to the Coromandel Peninsula where you'll discover a paradise of beautiful beaches and rainforests. The drive here will take your breath away, with twists and turns around dramatic coastline. Watcha s the ocean gets closer and closer!
The Coromandel is home to the famous Hot Water Beach where thousands of visitors dig their own hot tubs each year. If the tide allows, you'll do the same.
After some sandy fun, it's time to head to Whitianga. Sample the beaches take a surf lesson or just enjoy the vibes!
Day 5: Coromandel to Waitomo
This morning take a stroll along the cliffs and down into Cathedral Cove. You might recognise this spot from the Chronicles of Narnia. There are perfect beaches galore and massive rock arches and columns that are great for a photo shoot.
You can also take a guided Cathedral Cove kayak trip and check out the stunning coastline from a different angle. Who knows, you might even meet a dolphin or two!
Later today, wave goodbye to the east coast and hello to the west as you head to the tiny town of Waitomo. You can meet the resident glow worms tonight or kick back with a beer and admire the stunning stars.
Day 6: Waitomo to Rotorua
Have you ever been caving in a place with twinkling glow worms on the ceiling? Now’s your chance! If you're feeling daring, you can abseil 100 metres into the caverns on an epic 4-hour caving adventure!
For more excitement, float along on an underground river on an optional Cave Tubing trip as the glow worms light your way. There are also excellent guided walking tours of the caves available if heights or wet feet aren’t your thing.
Later this afternoon, head to Rotorua (or Rotovegas as it is locally known).
While the majority of the North Island is volcanic, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, you'll feel like you've entered a fantasy world! There are tons of unique natural wonders to be found in Rotorua.
Visit Te Puia, a well-known Maori cultural centre, where you can explore Whakarewarewa geothermal valley, visit New Zealand’s native kiwi birds, and learn about Maori history & culture.
Day 7: Rotorua to Murupara
Breakfast and dinner included.
There’s of time to get amongst Rotorua while you're here. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, channel your inner hobbit with an optional visit to picturesque Hobbiton. Have a ginger beer at the Green Dragon pub and snap some photos outside the iconic Hobbit holes.
Or, if adrenalin’s your thing, you'll find the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world on the Kaituna River. If you're after a unique Kiwi style embark on a ride down grassy hills in a giant air-cushioned inflatable ball (or OGO).
Later this afternoon, head to Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara. This is a living Maori village and you'll be taken on a tribal tour by a village elder. You’ll also have a chance to learn the world-famous haka dance and weave your own dinner plate using flax (a type of plant).
Tonight your dinner is a traditional hangi meal. Cooked in an underground earth oven you can expect tender meat and delicious vegetables infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance. It's a real New Zealand treat! The night gets even better too, with the majority of proceeds going back to the local community.
Please note: Private accommodation upgrades are not available for this night of the tour due to the limited availability of accommodation.
Day 8: Murupara to Taupo
It’s just a short drive to your next destination, Taupo, today. There’s plenty to discover along the way, from mesmerising mud pools to the thundering rapids of the Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam.
Once you arrive in Taupo, it's time to take in the surrounds. A beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop, Taupo is a highlight on this trip. It's home to Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, which believe it or not is roughly the same size as Singapore!
This place is all about the thrills and spills, and there are plenty of activities in store this afternoon. Get your hair wet with a water touch bungy jump, take an unforgettable skydive or a sunset lake cruise for amazing lake and mountain views.
And don't forget to bring your swimwear today, a secret swimming stop is on the cards!
Day 9: Taupo
With a full day in Taupo, you're in for a treat! Are you in the mood for lakeside tranquillity or unlimited adrenalin and adventure? Either way, Taupo’s got you covered.
The ultimate adventure on offer here is the hiking, and the Tongariro Crossing is top of that list. It's among the top 10 full-day walks in the world and is an epic 19.4-kilometre mountain trek that boasts emerald green lakes, venting steam, lava flows and craters. It's well worth the effort.
If you’d prefer to relax, jump on a boat for a sailing trip to view Maori rock carvings or head to Spa Park for a soak.
Day 10: Taupo to Wellington
It’s a big drive from Taupo to Wellington today, but luckily there’s some unmissable scenery on offer to make the journey more enjoyable. If you're a Lord of the Rings junkie, you’re in for a treat! Your journey takes you through Tongariro National Park via the Rangipo Desert where some of the major Lord of the Rings battle scenes were filmed.
The Desert Road boasts incredible views of three active volcanic peaks - Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu. You may know Mount Ngauruhoe as Mount Doom, so be sure to snap a Mordor selfie!
Later, pass through two of the North Island’s quirkier towns where your guide wi;l have a couple of surprises up their sleeve!
Pull into Wellington in the afternoon, with just enough time for film buffs make a trip to Weta Workshop, where the special effects of Lord of the Rings and Avatar were produced.
Later, discover the bars and eateries New Zealand’s capital is famous. Wellington is a paradise for lovers of craft beer and you’ll be spoilt for choice tonight!
Day 11: Wellington to Kaikoura
Packed with quirky cafes and beautiful street art, and famous for its wind, Wellington will blow you away in more ways than one! Your guide will introduce you to some of their favourite spots this morning, and you'll take a trip up Mount Victoria for the best views in town.
This afternoon, wave goodbye to the North Island and say hello to the South! Enjoy a scenic ferry journey across the Cook Strait before feasting your eyes on the stunning welcome the South Island has in store - the Marlborough Sounds. As you glide through this stunning area toward Picton Harbour, you’ll feel like you’re in another world.
Your next destination, Kaikoura literally means “to eat crayfish”, and it lives up to its name - the area is teeming with them! The nutrient-rich waters of this area also attract a wide variety of marine wildlife like whales and dolphins.
Day 12: Kaikoura to Christchurch
The chance to swim with dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, and Kaikoura is one of the best places to find these stunning creatures. Pods of up to 300 hang out here at any one time!
If you want to get up close to the giants of the ocean, a whale watching tour here is the way to do it. Humpbacks, sperm whales and orca all stop by at various times of the year, so this is a great chance to meet some of them.
After visiting the local seals on your way out of town, you'll head to your home for the night, Christchurch. Known as the “Garden City” for its peaceful parklands and lazy rivers, this is a great spot to relax.
Day 13: Christchurch to Mackenzie Country
This morning, explore iconic downtown Christchurch.
Your guide will show you the creative ways the city is being rebuilt after the life-changing 2011 earthquake. The locals here are an innovative and creative bunch and there are some great sights to check out around the city. The Transitional Cathedral, created from cardboard, is worth a look!
After lunch, leave the city behind and head for Lake Tekapo. The lake’s breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer’s dream come true. The tiny Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water’s edge and couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of it. You'll probably see a few brides on your visit!
Later, it's time for some epic stargazing. Tekapo has been declared an International Dark Sky Reserve and the super clear skies make it the best place in New Zealand to see the stars and galaxies. Sit back, relax and enjoy.
Please note: Private accommodation upgrades are not available for this night of the tour due to the limited availability of accommodation in the area.
Day 14: Mackenzie Country to Queenstown
If you’re feeling energetic this morning, hike up to the summit of Mount John for awesome views of the Southern Alps. And speaking of views, today’s scenic drive to Queenstown is a show-stopper. From the golden surrounds of Mackenzie country to the dramatic peaks of the Southern Alps, it’s like you’re driving into a postcard. You’ll stop for lots of photo stops en route to give your camera a workout. A stop at the spectacular Kawarau Gorge, the World Home of Bungy, will offer you the chance for an adrenaline rush. Give a bungy jump a go or enjoy watching the jumpers scream their way through the gorge!
Then, it's onto Queenstown! Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, an avid hiker, wine taster or scenery lover, Queenstown has something for absolutely everyone. With two nights and plenty of daylight hours here, you'll get a real taste of the exciting city.
Day 15: Queenstown
With a full day in Queenstown, it's time to tick some things off that bucket list! Choose from paragliding over the lake, bungy jumping, horse riding through Lord of the Rings scenery, or swinging through a canyon! There's also mountain bike parks and trails that are some of the best in the world.
For hikers, the Ben Lomond day walk is a must. But beware, it's not for the faint-hearted! This walk is a firm tour guide favourite, and they can recommend great shorter walks too.
For scenery lovers, Milford Sound is top of the list. Whether you fly or drive or both, the scenery en route is as awesome as the destination. As you sail beneath thundering waterfalls and towering cliff faces, you’ll understand why some call it the “8th Wonder of the World."
Later, round out the day with a night on the town. You have around 40 bars to choose from! Your guide will share their favourites and no doubt you'll discover some of your own.
Day 16: Queenstown to Wanaka
After the excitement of Queenstown, today is a chance to chill. You're headed to Wanaka - Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister. It's just a one hour drive away and along the way, you’ll stop in at charming Arrowtown, a historic gold rush village with heaps of character.
As you cruise into Wanaka, you’ll soon see why it's considered to be one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns. Blessed with towering peaks and a glacial blue lake, it's a seriously stunning are. There are also great hikes and bike rides all around the town to enjoy.
Once you've checked out Wanaka from the ground, take to the air. It's one of the best ways to admire Wanaka and it's beautiful scenery. Treat yourself to a skydive or a scenic flight in a vintage plane. You can even take a flying lesson!
If you prefer to keep your feet closer to the ground, stroll or bike around the lake and check out the famous Wanaka Tree, standing all alone in the water. As always, it’s your trip and your choice!
Day 17: Wanaka to Franz Josef
After a relaxing morning in Wanaka, it's time to make the journey to Franz Josef. This town is another stunner, and the drive there is pretty cool too.
Hit the road with a stop at lakeside lookout points Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka. Your guide will keep an eye on the weather and pick the best option.
Next, it's back on the bus and back on the road. Don't nap on this journey - from the cascading waterfalls of Haast Pass to classic coastal views, you won’t want to miss anything. Your guide will have some epic surprise photo stops and short walks along the way.
You'll have worked up an appetite with all this travelling, so it's time to stop and try a local delicacy. Between September and December, it’s whitebait season, and during those months you’ll stop at one of the local spots for a taste. Fried up with eggs and served on toast, it’s a local treat and shouldn’t be missed.
You'll roll into Franz Josef in the late afternoon/early evening. This UNESCO World Heritage area is famous for its spectacular glacier, just 5 kilometres from town, which is begging to be explored tomorrow.
Day 18: Franz Josef
You've got a full day to explore the magical Franz Josef! With Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, twinkling behind the glaciers, this as beautiful a setting as you can find in New Zealand.
This morning, you'll learn more about the area as you participate in a fun activity... included in your tour is a special opportunity to carve your very own pounamu (greenstone) pendant at a local gallery. Te Wahi Pounamu (which means ‘the place of greenstone’ in M?ori) is the name given to this part of the West Coast because of the abundance of pounamu (greenstone/jade) that can be found here.
Later, take your pick of the millions of ways you can enjoy Franz Josef Glacier! Weather permitting, you can take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers. Or, maybe you’d prefer to kayak on a glacial lake or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below As well as the awesome glacier activities, there's also quad biking, horseback riding and even a bit of group karaoke tonight!
Day 19: Franz Josef to Punakaiki
Breakfast and dinner included.
Driving along the incredible coastal road and exploring the lush forests around Punakaiki, it almost feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Take your time to unwind and unplug from the outside world.
??Your guides will have some surprises up their sleeve for this part of the trip, including a spot or two to get your feet wet.?? Get excited!
As you make your way North, visit one of the famous artisan greenstone factories in Hokitika and pass through some old gold mining towns before arriving in Punakaiki.??
One of Punakaiki’s many natural wonders is the subtropical rainforest and you'll to explore to the fullest as you're spending to nights here!
To celebrate your arrival in paradise, cook up a group dinner and end the day watching the sunset over the ocean.
Day 20: Punakaiki
Start your morning soaking up the sun on the unspoilt beaches or take a stroll through the rainforest to a chorus of birdsong.
Today, a short walk to see a giant stack of pancakes is a must-do! Punakaiki’s limestone Pancake Rocks developed over 30 million years ago and are a truly unique sight. There are some seriously impressive blowholes too!
If you're keen to get on the water, try your hand at kayaking or explore the region’s underground caves by tube. You can also enjoy horseback riding in Paparoa National Park or just chill by the beach.
Later, head to the beach with your buddies and watch the stars come out to play. If it's a clear night, there'll be tons to see above you.
Day 21: Punakaiki to Abel Tasman
As you cruise up north from Punakaiki, the scenery just gets better and better. The powerful, untouched coastline gives way to rivers and gorges and is absolutely breathtaking!
Head over the hills and down towards the bayside town of Nelson, to stock up on supplies before arriving at your next remote hideaway in Abel Tasman National Park.
Once you arrive in Marahau, the gateway to Abel Tasman, you'll be met with golden beaches, tranquil lagoons and crystal clear waters. Abel Tasman is the perfect contrast to the wildness of the rainforests and mountains you've enjoyed for the past few days.
This area boasts lush forests, sandy beaches, sheltered bays, and tons of wildlife. Get ready to lose yourself in this wonderland!
Day 22: Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman has your whole attention today. Explore the forests, sandy beaches and bays, and soak up jaw-dropping views.
If you're up for an adventure, you can hike part of the Abel Tasman Coast Track, which one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks! Or, hit the water and paddle a kayak to Split Apple Rock. There's also canyoning adventures galore the be had.
If you fancy a relaxing day instead, take your pick of golden beaches and make yourself at home!
In the warmer months, you’ll stay another night at the edge of the national park. In winter, drive a little further and stay in quirky Nelson with its cosy pubs, cool craft beers and artsy vibes.
Day 23: Abel Tasman to Wellington.
Today, start things off by learning to paddle a traditional waka - a Maori war canoe. Experience a karakia (blessing for protection), and learn Tikanga (waka etiquette) as you go!
This afternoon, your road trip continues along the northern edge of the South Island. Stop for tasting at a local winery, and snack on famous New Zealand mussels in Havelock.
Later, make your way towards Picton to catch the evening ferry to Wellington.
Day 24: Wellington (optional transfer to Auckland)
It's time to say goodbye to your new mates - your tour has come to an end!
If you're planning to stay in Wellington there's still plenty to see and do. Maybe a self-guided tour of Te Papa Museum, or a visit to the famous Weta Workshop?
For those heading back to Auckland, you can take the Northern Explorer train where you’ll get to experience the extremes of New Zealand’s scenery! From the farmlands of Waikato to the volcanic peaks of the Central Plateau and the sparkling Kapiti coast, you'll get one last taste of the epic New Zealand scenery. The journey covers 680km and has three scheduled departures a week. You'll leave in the early morning and arrive in Auckland in the early evening.
Or, if you can’t get enough of their Haka Tour Manager, you’re welcome to hitch a ride back to Auckland in the Haka Tour Bus.