Explore all New Zealand has to offer over two amazing weeks. Golden beaches, Maori culture, surreal landscapes and a big dose of adventure is all yours! Head from North to South and discover why New Zealand is so unique.
Day 1: Auckland (Breakfast)
After enjoying a welcome breakfast hit the road on your way to the North Island’s best-kept secret: the Coromandel Peninsula. A paradise of beautiful beaches and misty rainforests, just a couple of hours from Auckland, this spot will take your breath away. It's one of the most stunning drives in the North Island, with a road that twists and turns dramatically around the coastline.
This route gives you a taste of the more unique areas of the Coromandel, and you'll delve into territory that most other tours don't cover. Watch as the ocean gets more vivid and the landscape gradually changes all around you. Get your cameras at the ready - you'll want a reminder of this view forever.
The Coromandel is also home to the famous Hot Water Beach and thousands visit each year to dig their own personal “hot tub” here. If tide times allow, you'll be able to do the same!
Today you'll also carve your own tiki pendant from bone, a very special and unique Kiwi experience. What a better souvenir to take home than the one you made yourself in a traditional activity?
Day 2: Coromandel - Rotorua (Breakfast)
This morning, you will walk along the cliffs and down to Cathedral Cove (which you might recognise from the Chronicles of Narnia). With perfect beaches and massive rock arches and columns, it’s one of the most popular spots in the Coromandel.
Alternatively, take an optional guided Cathedral Cove kayak trip and check out this stunning coastline from a different angle, accompanied by a local dolphin or two if you’re lucky!
Later this afternoon, we head towards Rotorua; en route, we’ll visit Matamata – best known for being the home of Hobbiton.
For Lord of the Rings fans, a visit to Hobbiton Movie Set is an absolute must-do. On a fully guided tour of the 12 acre Middle-earth set you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn!
If hobbits aren’t your thing there are plenty of scenic short walks to enjoy Matamata’s lush green rolling hills.
While the majority of the North Island is volcanic in some way, Rotorua is exceptional for its geothermal activity. With neon blue and red lakes, steaming rivers, active volcanoes and geysers galore, there are more unique natural wonders to be found in Rotorua than many other places in the world.
Day 3: Rorotua (Breakfast)
Today is a free day to explore Rotorua and its surrounding area. Talk to your guide for the best free things to see and do in the neighbourhood (Kuirau Park’s steaming and hissing mud pools are a great option).
There are also a number of optional activities you can choose from – white water rafting, zip-lining, rolling down a hill in a giant inflatable ball, river sledging and more! If adrenaline is your thing, the highest commercial waterfall drop in the world, on the Kaituna River, is begging to be conquered on an exhilarating rafting trip. Perhaps you’d like to try thundering down grassy hills in a giant air-cushioned inflatable ball (aka ZORB)?
A day trip to Waitomo is another option today. Famous for its glowworms, there are a number of ways to experience these twinkling creatures up close. Discover the magic of both the world-famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, as well as the enchanting Ruakuri Cave on a ‘2 cave combo’ walking/boat tour. Or you can float along an underground river on a Black Water Rafting trip as the glow worms light your path.
However you spend today, be sure to get a good night’s sleep as there are more Rotorua adventures tomorrow!
Day 4: Rotorua - Murupara (Breakfast & Dinner)
This morning, we visit Te Puia Maori Village. Here you’ll learn more about M?ori history and culture, come face to face with the Pohutu Geyser, see jumping mud pools and get up close and personal with kiwi birds.
Later this afternoon, we head to Kohutapu Lodge in Murupara – a living M?ori village - where you will experience a tribal tour by a village elder. Here 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’s dinner is a traditional h?ngi meal. Cooked in an underground earth oven, you can expect tender meat and delicious vegetables infused with a smoky, earthy fragrance – it will fill your puku (belly) right up!
The best part about spending the evening at Kohutapu Lodge? The majority of proceeds from this activity go back to the local community.
Day 5: Murupara - Taupo (Breakfast)
It’s only a short drive to our next destination, Taup?, and there’s plenty to discover along the way. From mesmerising mud pools to the thundering rapids of the Huka Falls and Aratiatia Dam, your trusty Haka guide will make sure you don’t miss a thing.
Taup? is a beautiful lakeside town with a stunning mountain backdrop. Lake Taup? is New Zealand’s largest lake – believe it or not, it’s roughly the same size as Singapore! This place is all about the thrills and spills, and there are plenty of options 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.
Day 6: Taupo (Breakfast)
A full day in Taupo! What are you in the mood for? Choose between peaceful lakeside relaxation or an action-packed day of adventure.
Go hiking (tramping as the locals know it) and choose one of the many awesome hikes around. For those after the ultimate adventure, there are great hikes on offer here. Embark on the Tongariro Crossing, which among the top full-day walks in the world. A 19.4 km mountain track that boasts emerald green lakes, venting steam, lava flows and craters, you won't forget this trip in a hurry.
If you’d prefer to relax, jump on a boat for a sailing trip to view Maori rock carvings or head to Spa Park and soak until your fingers are wrinkly!
Day 7: Taupo - Wellington (Breakfast)
Get ready for a long drive today... it’s a big trip from Taupo to Wellington, but there’s some unmissable scenery on offer along the way.
If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, make sure your camera is charged because you're in for a treat! Today's drive will take you through Tongariro National Park via the Rangipo Desert, the spot some of the Lord of the Rings battle scenes were filmed.
You'll also drive along The Desert Road (as State Highway 1 is known in these parts) and will catch some incredible views of three active volcanic peaks - Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu. Mount Ngauruhoe is also known as Mt Doom in the Toilken world, so be sure to snap that all-important Mordor selfie.
Later, pass through some of the North Island’s quirkier towns. Get ready for an adventure, these areas are full of fun, and your guide will no doubt have a trick or two up his sleeve.
You'll pull into Wellington in the late afternoon, with plenty of time to explore this incredible city. For movie buffs, check out Weta Workshop, where the special effects for Lord of the Rings and Avatar were produced.
New Zealand’s capital is famous for its bars and eateries and is a paradise for lovers of craft beer so if you're a beer lover, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Day 8: Wellington - Kaikoura (Breakfast)
You've got the morning to explore New Zealand's incredible capital, so make the most of it! It's a fun city with tons of green spaces and beaches that make it feel more like a small town than an urban capital. The streets are packed with quirky bars, quaint cafes, beautiful street art and heaps of things to do. It’s impossible not to love Wellington, so get exploring!
In the afternoon you'll wave goodbye to the North Island and head off on a scenic ferry ride across the Cook Strait.
Later, join your group on a trip up Mount Victoria, one of Wellington’s most iconic spots. With the best views in town and plenty of walks and tracks to tackle, Mount Victoria is a Wellington icon and a highlight of the trip.
Gliding through the sounds as you approach Picton Harbour will feel like you're in another world. It's a beautiful entry into the South, and the start of a magical journey you'll never forget.
Your destination, Kaikoura, literally means “to eat crayfish”, and the area is teeming with them. The nutrient-rich waters of this area attract a wide variety of marine wildlife including the stars of the show - the whales and dolphins.
Day 9: Wellington - Christchurch (Breakfast)
Want to swim with dolphins? You're in luck, Kaikoura is one of the best places to find them. The chance to swim with dolphins in the wild is a massive New Zealand highlight for many travellers, so dive in for an adventure!
If you want to get up close to the giants of the ocean, Kaikoura is great for that also. There's plenty of whale-watching tours here, with humpbacks, sperm whales and killer whales all stop by the area at various times of the year.
After your underwater adventure hit the road again to Christchurch, your home for the night. A beautiful garden-filled city with lazy rivers and heritage buildings, you'll feel right at home in this South Island city.
Day 10 - Christchurch - Lake Tekapo (Breakfast)
This morning, explore iconic downtown Christchurch and enjoy as your Haka Guide shows you all the cool ways the city has reunited and is being repaired after the 2011 quake. With lots of quirky shops, cool cafes and spots to dine, along with a young fun Kiwi culture, Christchurch shouldn’t be missed.
After lunch, leave the city behind and head for MacKenzie Country, named for James MacKenzie, one of New Zealand’s most enduring folk heroes. There’s even a statue of his faithful dog at today’s destination - Lake Tekapo.
The lake’s breathtaking turquoise colour and mountain backdrop is a photographer’s dream come true. The iconic Church of the Good Shepherd stands right at the water’s edge and it's a popular spot for weddings - couples travel from all over the world for wedding shots in front of the chapel. Snap some shots of your own and capture the natural beauty of this incredible place.
If you’re feeling energetic, hike up to the summit of Mt John. With awesome views of the Southern Alps, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world! There's also the option to take a scenic flight over the mountains to take in all the glaciers and lakes of this beautiful part of the world.
Once darkness falls, take in the stunning stars and galaxies above. The area around Tekapo has been declared a “Dark Sky Reserve” and it’s the best place in New Zealand to see the stars on a clear night. Sit back, relax and enjoy!
Day 11: Lake Tekapo - Queenstown (Breakfast)
Get ready for a day packed with some serious scenery!
The road to Queenstown (scattered with dozens of glacial blue lakes, soaring mountains and lush valleys) is almost as beautiful as the town itself. On your way, enjoy some wine tasting in the famous Otago region, or a stop at a local salmon farm, to see a more diverse side of the South Island.
The ultimate adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown is always on an NZ bucket list. Surrounded by the stunning Remarkables, some of the most beautiful mountains in NZ, and sprawling along the banks of the dazzling Lake Wakatipu, its location is straight from a postcard.
Tomorrow you'll be checking out all the action here, so today, take in the scenery, ride a gondola to see Queenstown from above and be sure to get an early night. You'll need it!
Day 12: Queenstown (Breakfast)
It's adventure time! With a full day in Queenstown, pack in as many bucket list activities as you can.
There are tons of options to choose from, from paragliding and mountain biking to bungy jumping, horse riding or swinging through a canyon Tarzan-style!
Once you've worked up an appetite with all your adrenaline activities, check out New Zealand's famous Fergburger. This legendary burger joint in right in Queenstown centre so grab one as you wander the town with your fellow travellers.
If you're after more nature, it might be time to check out one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, Milford Sound. You can't miss this spot, with its towering cliffs and cascading falls. Beautiful in rain or shine, Milford is universally loved by all. Choose from some optional add-on cruises to delve into this magical spot. Don't forget to keep your eyes out for the occasional sea lion or dolphin popping up to say hello!
Whether experiencing it from the decks of a boat or kayaking around the steep cliffs, Milford really is one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful areas of the South Island.
Day 13: Queenstown - Wanaka (Breakfast)
Today, it's time to cool off after all your Queenstown excitement. Only an hour’s drive away, Wanaka is Queenstown’s slightly quieter little sister.
A year-round destination, Wanaka is blessed with towering mountains and a glacial blue lake. It’s one of New Zealand’s most beautiful mountain towns and there are stunning hikes and bike rides all around the area for a change of pace.
To really see the best of Wanaka, think about admiring it from the air. Treat yourself to a skydive or a scenic flight in a vintage plane or even take a flying lesson. Cool!
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, there's still plenty to do. Stroll around the lake and check out the famous Wanaka Tree, standing all alone in the water or just make your own way and explore the lakeside houses and quirky town!
Day 14: Wanaka - Franz Josef (Breakfast)
Enjoy a free morning in Wanaka, and then strap yourself in for an incredible journey to Franz Josef. From mountain passes to cascading waterfalls to classic Kiwi coastal views, you won’t even dare to take a nap on the bus in case you miss anything.
Between September and December it’s whitebait season (a small fish that’s a delicacy in New Zealand) and fried up with eggs and served on toast, it’s a local treat and shouldn’t be missed. Stop at one of the local spots to try it out along the way.
You'll arrive in Franz Josef in the late afternoon/early evening, ready for a meal and cosy nights sleep before you explore the famous glacier tomorrow.
Day 15: Franz Josef (Breakfast)
No visit to the South Island is complete without witnessing Franz Josefs stunning glaciers. Both the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are world-renowned due to their relative accessibility and the low level to which they descend.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Franz Josef Glacier whether you take a scenic helicopter flight and hike onto the glaciers, kayak on a glacial lake; or just relax in the steamy hot springs down below.
As well as the awesome glacier activities, you'll also have the chance to try out quad biking, horseback riding and even a bit of group karaoke tonight!
Day 16: Franz Josef - Christchurch (Breakfast)
And it's goodbye time! Enjoy breakfast in Franz Josef and then head along the beautiful west coast on another of the most spectacular drives in the country. A rugged landscape of luxuriant rainforest juxtaposed against breathtaking ocean waves, this spot is absolutely stunning.
Make a stop at Hokitika to visit a greenstone factory, a great place to stock up on souvenirs for your friends and family back home and then, if time permits, call into the National Kiwi Centre where there is guaranteed viewing of rare Kiwi birds in their nocturnal house!
On the way back to Christchurch, its time for a different mode of travel. Take the stunning TranzAlpine Train Crossing and travel across the Southern Alps through Arthur’s Pass, skirting the edges of the ice-fed Waimakariri River and taking in the majestic Canterbury Plains.
You'll arrive in Christchurch by 6:30 pm. Accommodation is included tonight.