20 Day New Zealand Explorer Deals
Best 20 Day New Zealand Explorer
Best New Zealand Tour
Best New Zealand South Island Tour
Best New Zealand North Island Tour
20 Day New Zealand Explorer
New Zealand Tour
New Zealand Tour Deals
New Zealand Tour Discount
New Zealand Tour Special
New Zealand Explorer Tour

20 Day New Zealand Explorer

Get to know New Zealand from Auckland to Queenstown to Christchurch & everything in between on this epic 20-day adventure!

Auckland, New Zealand
DurationDuration20 Days 19 Nights
Max Group SizeMax Group Size12
Minimum AgeMinimum Age18+
MealsMealsPartially includedi
Start & End LocationStart & End LocationStart: Auckland End: Christchurch

What's Included

  • Get up to $390 cash back per person when you book with us

  • A 20-day trip around both the North & South islands of New Zealand

  • Experience the famous Cathedral Cove & dig a mini-Jacuzzi at Hot Water Beach

  • Visit the fantastic Blue Springs & the stunning Okere Falls

  • Relax in River Valley's Spa & Sauna & enjoy a beach day at Hahei Beach
  • See a living Maori & geothermal village – learn about the daily way of life

  • Enjoy a native rainforest guided cultural walking tour

  • Learn a haka and learn to weave flax with a local iwi (tribe)

  • Sail on a private charter around Lake Taupo & visit the breath-taking Huka Falls

  • Wander through the National Army Museum, then enjoy an epic night out in Wellington

  • Visit the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, nestled by the shores of Lake Tekapo

  • Join an indoor astrology Dark Sky Project experience combining science & Māori astronomy

  • Visit Aoraki/Mt Cook & learn about NZ's history at the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre

  • Visit the charming, historic gold rush village of Arrowtown

  • Cruise along the stunning Milford Sound

  • Enjoy free time to explore Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world

  • Visit the vivid turquoise waters of Hokitika Gorge

  • Carve your own pounamu (greenstone/jade) pendant in Franz Josef

  • Explore Castle Hill rocks – named the 'Spiritual centre of the universe' by the Dalai Lama

  • All accommodation: Hostel (18 Nights), Shared Cultural Experience (1 Night)

  • Meals: 19 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners

  • Transport: Comfortable mini-bus, Internal flights from Wellington to Christchurch included. See FAQ for more.

What to Expect

Join this epic 20-day adventure to discover more of New Zealand than most Kiwis have even explored! Travelling by comfortable minibus, you'll make your way around the highlights of both the North and South Island, with a bunch of fantastic group activities included and the option to add more on as you go.


Starting in Auckland, you'll slowly make your way south to Wellington before hopping on a flight to Christchurch to continue the journey from there. Tick off big bucket list items like Milford Sound, Queenstown adrenaline, and Rotorua's geothermal wonderland while making new mates along the way. 


Day 1: Auckland to Thames to Coromandel


A nice early start sees you leave Auckland and head to the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. Here, you'll see why this region is a favourite for Kiwis on their summer holidays and why it's constantly regarded as one of the most stunning parts of the world.


However, first, take a quick lunch stop in the Goldmine town in the historic Thames. Then you'll visit the famous Cathedral Cove beach (as seen in multiple Hollywood feature films). You have the option to do a free 30 min walk one way to this beautiful spot. Alternatively, you could choose to do a kayaking tour as an optional add-on.


Depending on the time of the tides, you may have time today or tomorrow to grab a shovel and dig a mini jacuzzi at the unreal Hot Water Beach.


After an epic day of sun, sand and surf, it's time to head to your accommodation in Coromandel township, where you can explore the local kai (food) – and from there, the night is yours!


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 4 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 2: Coromandel to Matamata to Rotorua


After breakfast, it's time to head south. From Coromandel, you'll head to New Zealand's tourism mecca – Rotorua. On the way to this geothermal wonderland, you will have the option to get lost in the magical world of Hobbiton or check out some of the clearest springs you've ever seen.


After you check out a beautiful waterfall, arrive in Rotorua, where you will be welcomed by a local tribe and be guided through Ohinemutu Village. Here you will experience a living Maori and geothermal village and learn about daily life.


The rest of the day is yours, so you can immerse yourself in more traditional Maori culture in Rotorua or try out any of the exciting, adrenaline-filled activities in this town.


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 3 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 3: Rotorua


With far more to do than you can fit in just one day, You'll stay an extra night in Rotorua, so you have a full day of free time! There are plenty of optional paid activities on offer all around the city to keep you and your new mates busy.


Explore Te Puia's world-famous Geothermal Valley and Kiwi Sanctuary, and learn about Maori history/culture with an option for a buffet lunch, including the famous Maori' hangi'. So whether you're an adrenaline junkie and want to tackle the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall or if zip-lining through the forest canopy sounds more like you, your guides will be sure to offer you all the best experiences based on what you're looking for.


Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 4: Rotorua to Lake Aniwhenua


After breakfast, it's your last day to enjoy this culture-filled town! You'll have free time today till the afternoon to tick off your last bucket list activities!


At midday, you will head over to start your overnight cultural experience close to Lake Aniwhenua. You will be welcomed to the Ngati Manawa tribal lands, learn about the history of forestry to their people, and stay overnight with them.


See hangi (cultural meal) being laid in the ground, and enjoy a haka lesson and weaving class. Then, see your hangi being pulled up from the ground and enjoy a buffet feast followed by storytelling around an outdoor fireplace! This is as authentic as it gets!


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 1 hr
Accommodation: Shared Cultural Experience


Day 5: Lake Aniwhenua to Taupo


Wake up early and enjoy a breakfast prepared for you by your local hosts! Then, pack for the day ahead as you will be guided on a cultural walk through a Jurassic Podocarp Native Rainforest. See 1,000-year-old Totara, learn about Rakau Rongoa (Natural Medicine Plants), and hear and hopefully see some native and endangered birds in their natural habitat. Listen to their history as you walk in the shadows of giants and tread where dinosaurs once roamed.


Fill your water bottles from the pure waterfalls, and enjoy a picnic lunch infused with traditional cuisine – "Forest to Fork". See the tallest moss in the world, and enjoy 'forest bathing' – connecting with nature and enjoying the health benefits of simply just 'being' at one with the forest.


After this epic experience, it's off to your next destination – stunning Lake Taupo, stopping in at the breathtaking Huka Falls on the way. Here, 200,000 litres per second of crystal clear water flows from the lake into the start of New Zealand's longest river – the Waikato River.


Once in Taupo, optional paid activities like bungy jumping, skydiving or jet boat riding are available. Alternatively, ask your tour leader to point you towards some of Taupo's lesser-known gems or the many free activities available.


Finally, for sunset, you will board an exclusive yacht charter around the lake! Enjoy dinner on board, and feel free to order a few beverages for this epic experience.


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 1 hr 30 min
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 6: Taupo to Tongariro National Park to Taupo


After breakfast, you're free to explore the town and do as many activities or see as much as you want!


There is also an option to go for a trek and tick the Tongariro Alpine Crossing off your bucket list! This is heralded as the best one-day trek in New Zealand and is regarded as among the top ten single-day hikes in the world.


If you're not keen on that, you are welcome to spend the day in Taupo exploring the activities on offer or come for a drive and explore the town of Ohakune. You will all meet back in Taupo to explore the local cuisines with the crew! Then the night is yours!


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 4 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 7: Taupo to River Valley


After a few hours in the van, you'll arrive at New Zealand's best-kept secret – River Valley. This afternoon you'll chill out and enjoy the stunning lodge with an on-site cafe and bar, saunas, and spa. Using the lodge as a base, you can go on a rafting adventure, a horse trek, or explore some of the local rural back roads on an e-bike. Of course, you could simply relax beside the river and enjoy some delicious food, many of the ingredients of which come from the on-site organic gardens.


Tonight you're in for a treat as you'll be served a farm-to-table dinner with fresh seasonal vegetables harvested from the gardens and free-range organic or grass-fed local meats.


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 2 hrs 30 min
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 8: River Valley to Wellington


Enjoy a cooked breakfast before heading south from Taihape. You'll stop at the home of New Zealand's army base to stretch your legs and have some lunch.


From there, trek on to the nation's capital – Wellington! Once in 'Welly', grab some dinner and hit the streets of this incredible city on a local pub crawl. Doesn't sound like your cup of tea? No problem! The night is yours to explore what is often referred to as NZ's coolest city.


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 4 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 9: Wellington


After breakfast, the day is yours! Get lost in Wellington. Visit a local cafe, take photos of the local street art, head along to New Zealand's famous national museum – Te Papa (it's FREE!), or have your mind blown at Peter Jackson's famous 'Weta Workshop'. There are plenty of exciting things to choose from in New Zealand's coolest city.


Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 10: Wellington to Christchurch


Check out of your accommodation at 10:00 am and say your goodbyes to Wellington before boarding a flight to Christchurch! Once you arrive in this historical city, you will have the whole day and night free to explore and enjoy tasting some locally-brewed beers and delicious local cuisine before you head off tomorrow!


Transport: Domestic economy flight taking approx 1 hr
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 11: Christchurch to Rakaia Gorge to Lake Tekapo


Today is the first day of the South Island part of your epic road trip! After a quick meet and greet in Christchurch with others joining, load into the van and head west towards Rakaia Gorge for lunch.


Then, continue over the Rakaia Gorge Bridge, a historic piece of architecture dating back to 1945 and make your way towards Lake Tekapo. Enjoy a quick stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd – one of the most photographed destinations in New Zealand.


You then get to enjoy a treat for the senses at the Dark Sky Project experience for a 45-min guided tour that combines science and Māori astronomy. After this, you will give you time to settle into your accommodation which looks out at the intense milky blue waters of the glacial-fed Lake Tekapo.


In your downtime, you can walk around town or choose to soak and relax at Tekapo Springs, with views of the brilliant blue of Lake, sparse golden mountain ranges, pine forest, and the pure blue skies of the Mackenzie Region. As the sun sets, watch the beautiful changing light and colours on the mountains and in the sky.


At night, you can explore the local cuisines for dinner and hang out with your new crew. Afterwards, you can have your mind blown and discover the wonders of the night sky with many outdoor stargazing tours to choose from!


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 3 hrs 30 min
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 12: Lake Tekapo to Aoraki/Mt Cook to Wanaka


In the morning, your guides will prepare a continental breakfast before you wind your way further south. First, pass Lake Pukaki, the largest lake in the area that proudly shows off New Zealand's tallest peak and next stop – Aoraki/Mt Cook.


Take your time here exploring the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre for some extraordinary New Zealand history and a quick walk to view the largest glacier in the country. Afterwards, head towards Wānaka, a town situated on a lakefront and dwarfed by mountains.


After checking into your accommodation, you can wander the town and see why this place draws visitors from all around the world with unrivalled views of Mt. Aspiring National Park. The night is yours to try the delicious cuisines of this town and exciting nightlife.


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 3 hrs 30 min
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 13: Wanaka to Arrowtown to Te Anau


Wake up and enjoy your breakfast with panoramic views of the stunning Lake Wānaka. You'll be happy to know there is still time to relax around Wānaka before heading to Arrowtown, New Zealand's historic gold-mining destination.


The Kiwi-style 'Wild West' is full of funky cafes, charming wooden-fronted shops, and remnants of the gold rush era. While you're there, you should visit the replica miner's huts, buy some flakes of gold, wade in the river where people still pan for gold or buy some old-fashioned sweets from the Remarkable Sweet Shop.


After, head straight to the stunning lakeside town of Te Anau, where you'll stay the night to prepare for tomorrow's adventure. This picturesque township is the main visitor base for the glacier-covered wilderness of Fiordland National Park.


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 3 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 14: Te Anau to Milford Sound to Queenstown


After breakfast, head to one of New Zealand's most stunning attractions – Milford Sound. Deemed the 8th wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling, this area has a magical combination of mountain peaks, forest-clad cliffs, and deep mysterious-blue waters.


You'll really take advantage of this beautiful spot with a 2-hour boat cruise on the sound itself. You'll get up-close views of the impressive fiord, and be in touching distance of the stunning waterfalls and local wildlife. Your guides will prepare a gourmet lunch on board the boat while you keep your eyes out for seals, dolphins, and more!


After the cruise, drive back towards Queenstown whilst making stops at Eglinton Valley and Mirror Lake. On arrival, you'll check into your accommodation, and you'll have some free time to go and explore this famous town! You can check out the world's best burger joint – Fergburger. And then, the night is yours. Have some drinks at the Ice Bar, take a trip through the haunted house, or head back to our accommodation to rest up for two more big days ahead in Queenstown.


Transport: 2-hr cruise on Milford Sound, Mini-bus with an approx driving time of 5 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 15: Queenstown


Today is a free day, and what better place than to enjoy it in Queenstown? People come here from all over the world for an adventure holiday, and the town has subsequently been nicknamed the adventure capital for a good reason!


With two more nights in this incredible southern paradise, you'll get your chance to do as much exploring as you can fit in. Spend it how you want; bungy jumping, skydiving, exploring the town, soaking up in the onsen hot pools – the bucket list activities are endless! 


Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 16: Queenstown


If you didn't manage to do or see everything you wanted yesterday, no stress – you have another full day to explore this adventurous town.


At midday, however, there is an optional add-on for a spectacular guided tour of Skippers Canyon via the infamous Skippers Road, followed by the thrilling jet boat ride through the Shotover River's dramatic canyons! In this area, you will discover a land rich in gold mining history and breathtaking scenery, just a short distance from central Queenstown.


Accommodation: Hostel  


Day 17: Queenstown to Lake Hawea to Haast Pass to Franz Josef


Enjoy an early breakfast and head off to Cardrona, a historic village on the famous Crown Range Road. You'll be able to grab a coffee at the iconic Cardrona Hotel at the heart of the town while surely grabbing a photo while you're there!


You will then hit the road and pass by Lake Hāwea, a place of vivid beauty. Next, carry on to experience one of the best scenic drives in this area. Pass by non-stop Aotearoa eye-candy through the Haast Pass, highlighted by ancient rain forests, small glaciers, and astounding waterfalls. You might even get to meet some penguins if you are lucky!


Before lunch, visit the famous Blue Pools, a short walk from the car park. The blue of the water is not to be believed; it's clear, pure, and makes for one fantastic photo! Afterwards, you will pass by more epic waterfalls and have a beachfront lunch prepared for you by the friendly guides.


With full bellies, you'll make your way to Franz Josef Glacier for the night. Once settled into your new home, you can opt-in for a pizza night, check out the local restaurants in the area and even use the giant hot tub at the accommodation to finish off your epic day with the squad!


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 5 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 18: Franz Josef


After breakfast, you'll learn the process of carving a special Maori piece of jewellery from Pounamu, known as 'greenstone', much of which has been sourced from local West Coast riverbeds. You even get to keep what you have made as a souvenir.


After this morning's activity, explore Franz Josef and all the wild activities on offer! You can choose what you do for the rest of today. Some popular experiences are the original Franz Josef kayak adventure, epic helicopter tours, and treks for that unbeatable Instagram shot (your guides can give you some suggestions and help with bookings).


You will then meet back at the accommodation to head out for a group dinner and make the most of your night here.


Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 19: Franz Josef to Hokitika to Christchurch


Load the van back up and travel to Christchurch – from one coast and head towards the other. Stopping at Hokitika Gorge, you'll have the chance to walk one of the west coast's most popular trails! A 15 min stroll takes you to see surreal turquoise waters that drain from the distant Sale Glacier. You can then explore some lunch options in Hokitika town before hitting the road again to drive through Arthur's Pass.


Climbing to more than 900 metres through Arthur's Pass National Park, this is the highest and most spectacular pass across the Southern Alps. Halfway through, you will stop to witness the Limestone rocks at Castle Hill, also known as Kura Tawhiti by the indigenous Maori Tribe Ngai Tahu and named the 'Spiritual centre of the universe' by the Dalai Lama.


Once you arrive in Christchurch, get ready to say your goodbyes on the last night of your trip. 


Transport: Minibus with an approx driving time of 5 hrs
Accommodation: Hostel 


Day 20: Christchurch


Today is checkout day! After breakfast, wrap the tour up at 10:00 am and say your goodbyes to all your new best mates! 


Departure Info
Tour departs from the meeting point at Haka Lodge Auckland, 373 Karangahape Road, Auckland CBD, Auckland (meeting location may change, please check your final documents for the confirmed location).

Frequently Asked Questions

The Operator uses a variety of accommodations, from entire beach houses, ski lodges, and cabins, to private hostel dorms/twin rooms. To create a ‘community vibe’, rooms are shared but exclusive to your group. This means you will be sharing your room but only with people on the tour. The tours are typically dorm share with the occasional twin share.

Absolutely! The Operator recommends people join these tours by themselves to embrace the whole experience of meeting new friends, trying new things, and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. They also love couples joining the tours and a group of friends too. They welcome everyone and anyone!

The Operator asks that you bring a medium-sized bag for the 4-day tours and one large-sized bag for the 10+ day tours. The medium/large bag is for your clothes and general belongings, and they recommend taking one small day bag to keep with you on the bus. New Zealand weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you bring swimwear and a towel, as well as warm clothes and a rain jacket. All bedding is provided, but you can bring your favourite pillow if you like. And don’t forget your camera and chargers – you don’t want to miss out on all the photo opportunities.

The Operator will still run a tour for sure. Unfortunately, they can’t control the weather, but they can plan around it. They have backup plans always in case of bad weather, with replacement activities planned. 

The Operator can cater to most dietary requirements; please just let them know when you book! They are also confident the menus at lunch stops are diverse enough to satisfy whatever you may crave.

Yes, the itinerary can change due to weather, road closures, or anything else that is out of the Operator's control. But they have procedures and plans in place for when this does happen. So don’t worry; they've got you sorted.

The tour includes internal flights:

  • One-way economy flight from Wellington to Christchurch

Flights into Auckland and out of Christchurch are not included. 

  • Meals not listed

  • Optional activities

  • Additional purchases


Terms & Conditions:
  • The minimum age is 18 years

  • You must arrange and take out comprehensive travel insurance prior to the tour departure date if you are internationally travelling to New Zealand for this tour. If requested by your tour guide, you must produce evidence of your travel insurance prior to the commencement of the tour

  • You are entitled to have one piece of main luggage weighing no more than 23kg and one-day pack weighing no more than 7kg

Cancellation Policy:
  • All changes and cancellations of bookings by you must be made in writing by emailing The Operator. They will not regard a booking as cancelled unless email written notice has been received by them  from you

  • Cancellations or changes can only be made up to 14 days before the departure date of your tour. Any cancellations or changes made within 14 days to the departure date of your tour will be rejected, and the relevant booking price cannot be refunded. If the cancellation is accepted, a refund of the total booking price (less the $99.00 deposit and any applicable credit card fees) will be paid to you

  • No refunds will be available for cancellations within 14 days of the departure date. If your booking was made via a travel agent, please contact them directly to discuss your options

Reviews for 20 Day New Zealand Explorer


Flexible booking

Book your experience stress-free and know we're here to help.

Get Instant Confirmation

Why book with us?

Best Price Guarantee
Free & Easy Cancellation
Up to 10% Cashback
100,000 5 Star Reviews
Book Securely

Join Backpacker Deals and get $15 off your next adventure!

Join our mailing list to be the first to know about the hottest travel experience campaigns, deals and inspiration.

By subscribing you agree to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Minimum spend of AUD $99 applies.

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can learn more in our Privacy Policy.
© 2014-2023 Travello Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.