This tour captures the best of both the North and South Islands

Explore and experience New Zealand to the fullest, from the secluded beaches and volcanic craters of the north to the glaciers, mountains and fjords in the south. Adventure activities abound throughout the trip - sea kayaking and snorkelling, underground black-water rafting, bungy jumping, jet boating, mountain biking and kayaking. From Auckland to Christchurch and everything in between, this journey has New Zealand covered.

Auckland, New Zealand
Christchurch, New Zealand
New Zealand
Explorer, Wildlife
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 15
Carbon offset
0kg pp per trip


  • The national parks of Abel Tasman and Tongariro feature some of the best scenery in New Zealand. Venture out on challenging treks or simply sit back and take in the views - it's up to you
  • Share amazing moments with your fellow travellers. As you'll be in a small group, the trip retains a fun, personalised atmosphere throughout
  • Tour a network of caves in Waitomo and witness nature's illumination in a section lit up with glow worms
  • Spend several nights in Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital, where's you'll have tonnes of time to explore
  • Discover the thermal regions of Rotorua, which offer an impressive mix of boiling mud pools and spectacular geysers
  • Spend the night aboard a boat among the spectacular scenery of the Doubtful Sound. Cruise through fjords and take in the natural beauty of this remote wilderness area
  • Kayak around the Bay of Islands during a full day of optional activities. With its sub-tropical climate and clear blue waters, this is the South Pacific's answer to paradise


Kia-ora! Welcome to Auckland, New Zealand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. As there are no activities planned until the meeting, your day is free to do as you choose. This trip doesn't spend much time in Auckland so it's recommended that you arrive a few days prior so you can explore.

There is a distinct Pacific feel to the 'City of Sails' and this can be seen in the streets and the local markets. The waterfront region, built to its current state for the America's Cup sailing challenges, is now a well-frequented local bar and restaurant hub. If you have extra time, you might like to take a day trip to one of the many outer islands found in the Hauraki Gulf.
Leave Auckland and drive north through fantastic scenery towards New Zealand's winterless north, which should take around three and a half hours. On arrival, use your free time to explore the surrounding area of beaches and unspoiled places. The day is yours to relax and find your bearings, before a full day of activities tomorrow.

Notes: Total driving time is around four hours (approximately 225kms).
The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s top holiday destinations, and with 144 islands in total, this boating paradise also enjoys a sub-tropical climate. After breakfast, why not head out on the water to the Hole in the Rock or take part in a kayaking tour around the islands. Another option is to visit the village of Russell for a look into New Zealand's interesting past.
Start your day early, as you make your way south to Waitomo via Auckland. Crossing the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with a spectacular view of the 'City of Sails', stop for lunch and then carry on through to Waitomo. Famous for its limestone caves, glow worms and black water rafting, you'll head out on an included trip to Waitomo's Caves where you'll have the chance to take part in tonnes of optional activities. The rest of your evening is then free.

Note: Total driving time is around six and a half hours (approximately 420kms).
Today there are some great optional activities to choose from, as you can head out on a boat trip, walk through the glow worm caves or go black water rafting. This is an unforgettable trip involving hiking and descending an underground river, while floating on an inner tube. After lunch, head to Rotorua to visit the Te Puia thermal reserve where you'll see geysers and boiling mud pools in an amazing display of mother Earth's power. Check in to your lodge in the late afternoon, and perhaps take up the option of a Maori Hangi dinner and concert for afterwards.

Notes:Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 140kms). Today's walking distance will take approximately one hour.
Drive for around an hour to Taupo today, which is widely acknowledged as the North Island's home of extreme sports. On the way visit the spectacular Huka Falls, where you can bungy-jump or ride in a jet boat, as well as do many other activities. Or how about just relaxing by the shores of the largest lake in New Zealand? The sights are fantastic and this may just be one of your highlights. You'll then drive to Mount Ruapehu, ready for tomorrow's activities.

There are several options for the next day and many will want to hike the famous Tongariro Crossing track. This hike has spectacular views of the volcanic plateau and lakes - known as the best of its kind in New Zealand. There are many short, easy hikes in the park, all accessible for people of all fitness levels.

Notes: Total driving time is around two and a half hours (approximately 180kms). Walking distance will be dependant on optional activities.
After breakfast this morning, you have the option of walking the Tongariro Crossing. This is a full day of hiking and people should have a decent level of fitness if they want to complete the route. The rewards are fantastic on this trek, so be prepared for amazing views of mountains, hot springs and an insight into why Lord of the Rings was filmed here. For those not doing the hike, there are lower altitude bush walks available from the motel. In the evening, relax after a long day and enjoy dinner with the group.
Leave the National Park and head through the central north island to the capital city of Wellington. Here you can visit the Te Papa Tongarewa museum, which holds many Maori cultural artefacts and home to the remains of the world's largest specimen of colossal squid. Afterwards, perhaps jump in a cable car to the Botanic Gardens for spectacular views of Wellington city and harbour. Later in the afternoon, enjoy dinner overlooking the bay.

Note: Total driving time is around four and a half hours (approximately 330kms).
Today, cross to the South Island on the inter-island ferry and enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Marlborough Sound. Nelson is a pleasant sunny place and home to some of the most beautiful sea kayaking in the world. Spend the afternoon exploring the town, with a huge variety of activities to choose from including kayaking, boating, sailing in the Abel Tasman National Park, mountain biking or just relaxing in town or on the beach.

Note: Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 130kms).
Today, you have the option of visiting the Abel Tasman National Park. Bushwalking tracks among these inlets and coves are just begging to be explored, and the boat ride in water taxi is spectacular. Make sure you have plenty of space left on your memory card, as photo opportunities are aplenty. If you have time, you could also head out on a winery tour of the area.

Notes: Walking distance is dependant on what activities you take part in.
Leaving Nelson behind after breakfast, head to the beautiful coastline of Kaikoura where many adventures await you. On arrival, there's an optional boat trip where you can go watching whales and experience being close to some of the largest creatures in the world. For those who wish to see the area from a different perspective, there are plane or helicopter flights to view the whales (whale watching activities are subject to weather conditions). Kaikoura is famous for its cuisine and marine life, so there's lots to see and do including swimming with dolphins.

Note: Total driving time is around four hours (approximately 240kms). Walking distance is dependant on any optional activities you take part in.
Make the drive to Christchurch today, which should take around three hours. You should have some time to explore the city before meeting up with new members of your group at around 6.00 pm. There's a whole new range of pop up cafes, restaurants and bars to run through. Christchurch has hit the ground running and it's a great chance to get your bearings of this resilient city. In the evening, perhaps head out for dinner with your new travel companions.

Notes: Total driving time is around three hours (approximately 160kms).
Depart Christchurch early in the morning and head over the fertile Canterbury Plains, heading for the mountains. Leave the dry earth of the east coast and cross the dividing range to go down to the lush, green west coast. The countryside changes radically, as great deep blue rivers spring from the steep mountainsides. On arrival to Punakaiki, perhaps talk a walk out to Pancake Rocks and watch the power of the waves as they crash against the rocks. In the evening, drive onto Greymouth where you'll spend the night.

Notes: Total driving distance is around five hours (approximately 300kms). Total distance walked is approximately two to three kilometres.
The drive down the coast later today is beautiful. You have plenty of time in the morning and afternoon to take part in cultural activities, before leaving for Franz Josef Glacier along the coast of forests, lakes and hidden beaches. Pull into Franz Josef in the evening and relax before tomorrow's activities. Your evening is free, so possibly head out for dinner with the group.

Notes: Total driving time is around three hours (approximately 180kms).
After breakfast this morning, your day is free to do as much or as little as you please. There are plenty of amazing optional activities to keep you busy, such as a guided hike across a glacier, kayaking, taking a spin on a quad bike or enjoying unrivalled views of the region on a scenic flight (at your own cost). (B)

Notes: Total driving time is around 30 minutes (approximately 10kms). Total distance walked will be between one and five kilometres.

Glacier Flights - NZD390
Glacier Hike - NZD195
Kayak Tour - NZD115
Quad Bike Tours - NZD70-170
After breakfast, drive the remainder of the west coast and climb up through the Haast Pass into the Southern Alps (approximately four to five hours). This is a stunning drive with fantastic views of the mountains, rivers and lakes. Arriving into Queenstown in the late afternoon, enjoy dinner with the rest of your night free. Over the next few days, you'll see and experience a place that's widely acknowledged as being the extreme activity capital of the world. There is simply no end to the line up of optional activities including bungy-jumping, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, helicopter rides, jet boating and paragliding.

Note: Total driving time is around five and a half hours (approximately 360kms). Total distance walked is around one to two kilometres.
Today is free to take part in as many optional activities as you want. Queenstown will spoil you for choice, as the undisputed adventure capital of New Zealand. Jet boat, bungee jump, paraglide, kayak, mountain bike, ski or river raft - there's so much to do in this grand place (all activities are at own expense). In the evening, settle down in your lodge after a big day of adventure.

Notes: Total driving time is around one hour (approximately 10kms). Walking distance will depend on what activities you take part in.
Head out after breakfast and take a break from the adrenaline rush of Queenstown, as you drive to Doubtful Sound to board your overnight cruise boat for a trip through the fjords. This place is stunning with tall mountain peaks and waterfalls - easily one of the most spectacular places in the country. Enjoy a dinner aboard the boat this evening with the rest of the group.

Notes: Total driving time is around three hours (approximately 170kms).

Your boat has four berth cabins, so you'll be sharing your space with travellers of the same or different sex. Twin share cabins aren't available on the boat this night.
Enjoy another free day in Queenstown. If you're a big fan of spectacular panoramic views, then hike on the Ben Lomond Walkway. This requires a good level of fitness, sturdy walking/hiking shoes, and plenty of water and food supplies. Please ensure you keeping checking the weather forecast before you hike this trail, as conditions can change really quickly.

Notes: Total driving time is around six hours (approximately 415kms).
This morning at Mt. Cook, if the weather is fine you should be able to catch a view of this spectacular mountain and hike some of the lower trails. There are wonderful lake views and plenty of photo opportunities. In the afternoon, continue to Christchurch where your adventure concludes at around 6 pm. Please take this into consideration when booking any onward flights.

Notes: Total driving time is around five hours (approximately 325kms).
View trip notes to read full itinerary


15 breakfasts, 4 dinners
Ferry, Van
Lodge (20 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)
Included activities
  • Waitomo - Caves Entrance
  • Rotorua - Te Puia Maori Art & Cultural Centre
  • Wellington - Te Papa Museum
  • Scenic Cruise via Queen Charlotte Sounds
  • Kaikoura Seal Colony
  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
  • Franz Josef Glacier - Kiwi House
  • Arrowtown Tour
  • Lake Matheson
  • Queenstown - Skyline Gondola from


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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Auckland with group meeting on day 1 at 6:00pm and finishes in Christchurch day 22 at approx 6pm; please consider when booking flights and accommodation. 2. We recommend you book accommodation in advance and extend your stay. 3. Trip runs in reverse, see tour code PTOACU. 4. Allow NZD 870 for meals not included. 5. A single supplement is available on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes


Our New Zealand Adventure Southbound (ex Auckland) trips score an average of 4.38 out of 5 based on 8 reviews in the last year.

New Zealand Adventure Southbound (ex Auckland) , March 2016

New Zealand Adventure Southbound (ex Auckland) , March 2016