22 Day New Zealand Explorer Southbound Itinerary

This New Zealand tour captures the best of both the North and South islands. Visit attractions like Mt Ruapehu and Rotorua, plus Auckland, Wellington and more.

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Hiking towards Mount Cook

Franz Josef Glacier

Whale

Dolphin

Milford sound

Geyser, Rotorua

Day 1 Auckland

Arrive early to make the most of the distinctive Pacific flavour of Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. Enjoy a cosmopolitan vibe and a wide variety of restaurants and cafes.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Days 2-3 Bay of Islands

Cross green farmland and peer up at the ancient trees of the kauri forests on the way the unforgettable Bay of Islands. Set out exploring the pristine natural beauty of the Bay Islands by kayak or boat, or travel out to the quaint village of Russell for a taste of old-world New Zealand.
ACCOM: Hostel - 2

Day 4 Waitomo

Check out the limestone caves and glow worms of Waitomo. Opt to get a feel for this underground wonderland on a black-water rafting expedition, which will have you floating down underground rivers in an inner tube.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Day 5 Rotorua

Geysers, bubbling mud pools and volcanic cliffs shaped by seismic forces make Rotorua a must-see while travelling in New Zealand. This popular resort town also boasts a fine selection of restaurants and cafes.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Days 6-7 Taupo/Mt Ruapehu

Visit the beautiful Huka Falls on the way to Taupo. While in Taupo, take the opportunity to bungee jump or jet boat - this is the extreme sports capital of the North Island after all! Be inspired and captivated by the majesty of Mt Ruapehu. For the energetic, a hike along the Tongariro Crossing is highly recommended.
ACCOM: Hostel - 2

Day 8 Wellington

Spend time exploring Te Papa Tongarewa museum. In free time perhaps jump in the cable car to the Botanic Gardens for spectacular views of Wellington city and harbour.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Days 9-10 Nelson

Cruise the Marlborough Sounds from the North to the South Island on the way to Nelson. Be sure to make time to visit Abel Tasman National Park or perhaps indulge in a local winery tour.
ACCOM: Hostel - 2

Day 11 Kaikoura

Travel to Kaikoura, where animal lovers can spot sperm whales, dolphins, seals and wandering albatrosses in this wildlife mecca.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Day 12 Christchurch

End the adventure on arrival in Christchurch. If time permits, why not book in a few extra days to enjoy this picturesque city's laidback vibe and witness the various initiatives aimed at getting the city back on track post-earthquake.

Day 13 Punakaiki

Travel west across the Canterbury Plains watching as the dry landscape of the east slowly gives way to green fields, deep blue rivers and sheer mountainsides. Arrive in Punakaiki and take in the spectacular views along the west's windswept coastline.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Days 14-15 Franz Josef Glacier

Get ready for another beautiful drive today as we wind through rich forests, shimmering lakes and secluded beaches en route to Franz Josef. Trek across the region's massive glacier on a guided hike, or board a ski-plane or helicopter and peer down at it from above.
ACCOM: Hostel - 2

Days 16-20 Queenstown and Doubtful Sound

Ascend the Haast Pass into the Southern Alps and travel to the vibrant resort town of Queenstown. Perched by the shores of Lake Wakatipu and with an unpretentious atmosphere and backed by spectacular mountain scenery, this is a place sure to leave an impression. Spend the next few days getting your adrenaline kicks whizzing around by jet boat, taking to the skies paragliding, hitting the hill trails by mountain bike, bungee jumping, kayaking, rafting or choosing from any other number of activities on offer.
ACCOM: Hostel - 4, Overnight boat - 1

Day 21 Mt Cook

Drive into Mt Cook National Park for a night's lodge accommodation at the base of New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki (Mt Cook).
ACCOM: Hostel - 1

Day 22 Christchurch

Weather permitting, perhaps head off along one of the trails at the base of Mt Cook before making tracks back to Christchurch where this South Island odyssey winds up. Why not rally the troops and commemorate the end of the journey with a final group dinner.