Your tour begins in Auckland, where you’ll be met by a tour guide and be transferred to your hotel for the evening. The rest of the day is then free for you to explore – your hotel is only a short walk away from Viaduct Harbour’s delicious cafes and restaurants, and the bustling downtown shopping district. You could even hop on a ferry to Devonport or the Hauraki Gulf Islands to explore, or wander up the Sky Tower for phenomenal views.
Overnight: Sebel Suites
Auckland - Rotorua
Today you’ll travel on to Rotorua, passing the luscious Waikato and Bay of Plenty along the way. First, you’ll visit the incredible Karangahake Gorge and saunter along the Ohinemuri River to discover the gold-mining relics and ruins, before passing through Te Puke to see the Kiwifruit capital of the world and visit a working Kiwifruit orchard. Afterwards, you’ll continue on to Rotorua - well-known for its geothermal wonders - boarding a 53ft catamaran named Tiua along the way. Whilst on board Tiua, you’ll slowly sail along the tranquil Lake Rotoiti to see the isolated coves and natural hot pools.
Overnight: Novotel Lakeside (Breakfast included)
The morning is free for you to enjoy at leisure. We’d recommend ambling along to the lakeside, and Ohinemutu marae is not to be missed either – it’s one of only two living Maori villages left in New Zealand. After a morning to yourself, you’ll head to the Buried Village of Te Wairoa for a delicious hosted lunch with locals David and Karen, a fascinating couple with plenty of stories from their Maori and European histories.
After lunch, you’ll explore the village itself, learning about New Zealand’s national icon – the Kiwi bird – and the conservation efforts made at the Rotorua Kiwi Encounter to ensure their survival. We have no doubt you’ll be surprised by just how big a Kiwi bird can be.
Overnight: Novotel Lakeside (Breakfast and lunch included)
Rotorua – Tongariro National Park
Day four will start with a visit to the unique geothermal reserve of Wai-o-Tapu, full of bubbling mud pools and vibrant silica terraces, before heading along to ‘Great Lake’ Taupo to discover the Huka Falls. The afternoon will then be spent slowly strolling along the lake to spot all three volcanoes in the area – Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu. Your evening will be spent at the Tongariro National Park, where you’ll relax in your hotel right by the foot of Mt Ruapehu.
Overnight: Chateau Tongariro (Breakfast included)
Tongariro National Park – Wellington
Enjoy your breakfast with a view in Chateau Tongariro today, right at the bottom of the mountains. You’ll then travel along the volcanic plateau and across the high country to the beachside retreat of Hawke’s Bay – a very popular spot for locals to holiday. You’ll be sure to feel in the beach holiday mood as you drive pass the region’s beautiful vineyards, orchards and golden coastline, before getting to spend the afternoon exploring Wellington lovingly named the ‘coolest little capital in the world’.
Overnight: The Bolton Hotel (Breakfast included)
Your central location is in walking distance to the waterfront and Te Papa National museum as well as all the eateries and breweries. You'll have a full day at leisure to wander around and enjoy all that this city has to offer. Wellington is also the spiritual home of "The Lord of Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props are made or drop into the Embassy theatre which hosted the world premier back in 2003.
Overnight: The Bolton Hotel (Breakfast included)
Wellington – Cook Strait Crossing – Picton – Blenheim – Nelson
Cruising along from the North Island to the South Island on the Interisland ferry is a trip that will take your breath away. For three hours, you can take in the amazing views of the Cook Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound and Picton before finally setting foot on Te Waka a Maui – the South Island.
Once you’ve arrived, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Forrest vineyard for a delectable wine tasting and lunch, right in the heart of the Marlborough sauvignon blanc region. From wine country you will travel to Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand. Along the way cross the Pelorus River Bridge, scene of the Barrel run from the Hobbit movie before relaxing at the hotel.
Overnight: Trailways Hotel (Breakfast and lunch included)
Nelson – Abel Tasman National Park
The picture-perfect Abel Tasman National Park is your port of call today. With turquoise waters framed by luscious flora and sugary sand beach, this national park never fails to amaze those who visit. Take your pick from a cruise or a cruise walk combo, giving you the opportunity to hike park of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track and find out how a recent crowd funded initiative increased the area of the park to protect even more of its landscape.
This is your opportunity to truly relax and soak up the sun. Laze around on the golden sands, swim in the water with dolphins, and enjoy the blazing sunshine.
Overnight: Trailways Hotel (Breakfast and picnic lunch in Abel Tasman National Park included)
Nelson – Kaikoura/Methven
In the morning you will travel the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges, which offer spectacular views. The afternoon is then free to explore, you’ll have the chance to whale watch, swim with dolphins, or visit the seal colony who reside on the edge of town.
Overnight: White Morph Inn (Breakfast included)
Kaikoura/Methven – Akaunui Homestead – Aoraki/Mt Cook
Travelling over the hills to the Canterbury Plains, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the spectacular Southern Alps in the horizon. Lunch is a special affair today, taking place in Akaunui Homestead – a Canterbury heritage building adorned with huge, colourful gardens – with food localled sourced and cooked in the company of Kiwi locals Di and Ian Mackenzie.
After you’ve tucked in the lunch, you’ll head over the Mackenzie Country, home to wonderful views of the Southern Alps. There’ll be many stops en route, including the unbelievably crystal blue Lake Pukaki and the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo.
Overnight: The Hermitage Hotel (Breakfast and lunch included)
Aoraki/Mt Cook – Queenstown
The morning will be spent exploring the soaring landscapes of Mount Cook, the home ground of Sir Edmund Hillary. You can choose between embarking on an easy walking tour around the village, or hopping on a boat cruise on the glacial lake, a scenic flight, or even a heli-hike up on the Tasman Glacier.
Then after tucking into lunch you’ll travel along the Lindis Pass and through Kawarau Gorge before arriving in Queenstown, known for its adventurous activities. Take a trip up the Gondola to Bob’s Peak for unforgettable views of the Wakatipu, and then spend the evening taking your pick of Queenstown’s wicked restaurant and bar scene.
Overnight: Scenic Suites (Breakfast included)
Queenstown - Milford Sound
On day 12 you’ll visit Milford Sound, venturing into the heart of Fiordland National Park to marvel at the breath-taking landscapes. Once you’ve arrived you’ll enjoy a cruise out onto the sound, surrounded by Mitre Peak and home to prolific birdlife, large seal colonies, and wonderful pods of dolphins, before taking a flight over the Southern Alps back to Queenstown for the evening.
Day 13 will then be free for you to partake in brilliant activities suitable for all ages and abilities. Those who wish to go at a slower pace will enjoy a jet boat ride along the Dart River to take a peek of The Lord of the Rings scenery, or while away an afternoon walking through the Botanic Gardens. An exhilarating raft ride along the Kawarau River is perfect for adrenaline junkies, and we also highly recommend wine tasting in one of Central Otago’s boutique vineyards, or embarking on the 1912 Steamship, the Earnslaw, for a cruise along Lake Wakatipu.
Overnight: Scenic Suites (2 breakfast included)
Queenstown – Arrowtown – Wanaka
Arrowtown’s gold mining history is wildly fascinating, and where better to find out more than beside the foliage-framed Arrow River and in the stimulating museum. Afterwards you’ll have the chance to climb up the Crown Range for an unbelievable view of the Wakatipu Basin, before visiting Cardrona Hotel for a delve into the colonial era. After lunch you have plenty of time to discover this lovely lakeside town for yourself or perhaps head next door to the Rippon Vineyard for wine tasting with a view!
The hotel you’ll be staying at this evening is nestled on the lake edge, close by to wonderful bike and waterfront trails and fabulous kayaking opportunities.
Overnight: Edgewater Resort (Breakfast included)
Wanaka – Haast Pass – Franz Josef Glacier
Today is jam-packed full of excitement. The day begins with a drive along Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, before exploring the sweeping mountains and river scenes of the Mount Aspiring National Park. You’ll then travel over the Haast Pass and discover wonderful beech forests and cascading waterfalls before following the Haast river out to the sea. The whole adventure will be leisurely, so there’ll be ample time for taking photos and drinking in the views.
Once that adventure is complete, you’ll then wander through Gondwanaland forest, stopping off at Ship Creek to stroll along the sand and spot dolphins in the shallows. The beach then turns into icy glaciers as you marvel at Lake Matheson’s famous reflections and spot the striking Fox Glacier that descends from Mount Cook.
Overnight: Punga Grove (Breakfast included)
Franz Josef Glacier – Hokitika – Punakaiki
Your morning is free to discover Glacier Country, right in the heart of our West Coast wilderness. Your guide will lead you on a walk up Franz Josef Glacier Valley, to the glacier lookout. You may also take the opportunity to visit West Coast gem of Okarito Lagoon, the home of the rare Kotoku or White Heron. You’ve got a couple of options to discover the lagoon, your choice of kayaking or a nature cruise with a specialist local guide. This afternoon drive through countryside adorned with lakes and rivers and take a coffee stop in Hokitika, the setting for colonial novel The Luminaries. Home to craft-enthusiasts, you’ll even be able to visit the carvers and watch glass blowers, wood and copper artisans. Hokitika is the Pounamu (greenstone) capital, so you won’t want to miss the locals getting crafty.
Overnight: Punakaiki Resort (Breakfast included)
Today you have plenty of time to explore Paparoa National Park and Punakaiki, taking in views of rugged limestone cliffs shrouded with tropical flora, including New Zealand’s only native palm tree, the Nikau Palm. Punakaiki is also home to the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. There are also some great optional activities here, our favourite is the Glowworm Caves a t Charleston, but you’ve also got horse riding or kayaking too if that’s your thing.
Overnight: Punakaiki Resort (Breakfast included)
Punakaiki – Arthur’s Pass - Christchurch
Cross New Zealand’s main divide, traverse the stunning Canterbury High Country and cross the plains into Christchurch. Highlights of the day include the Otria Viaduct, the spectacular cantilevered road through towering mountains to Arthur’s Pass National Park. Arrive in Christchurch late afternoon and transfer to the airport for your onwards flight.