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.


Start
Auckland, New Zealand
Finish
Christchurch, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
PTOZCU
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 15

Why you'll love this 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

  • 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

Is this trip right for you?

  • Accommodation on this trip isn't luxurious, but it's comfortable enough for you to relax after a day of adventure.

  • There are more optional activities on this trip than included ones. These activities range from trekking moderate hiking trails to white water rafting, so you'll be able to choose your own adventure level.

  • You'll be spending quite a lot of time in a minibus as you travel through the islands. The bus may be small, but it's comfortable, and offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and gaze at passing landscapes.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Apr 2019 to 31 Dec 2019.
View the 2020 itinerary
Kia ora! Welcome to Auckland, surrounded by volcanoes and filled with friendly locals and Maoritanga (the Maori way of life). Your adventure kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm at your accommodation. If you have extra time before your trip begins you can take a tour to one of the many outer islands in the Hauraki Gulf, hike to one of the 48 volcanic cones, or keep it simple with a stroll and a coffee (the lively Ponsonby area is a good start).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Auckland: Skytower visit - NZD32
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or accommodation reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.
Depart Auckland this morning, head north to the beautiful Bay of Islands. There's some beautiful scenery along the way, so sit back and enjoy the rolling green hills as your leader explains a bit about this part of New Zealand and what's coming on the journey ahead. Take this time to organise what you’d like to do in the Bay of islands, as options need to be finalised this morning in order to secure places. Take a look at the optional activities listed tomorrow for an idea of what’s on offer. There will be stops in small towns so you can stretch your legs and grab a snack en route. Arrive in Paihia and settle into your accommodation and enjoy the sea breeze, perhaps with one of New Zealand's many renowned white wines or small-batch craft beers in hand. As the sun goes down head out on the water for an evening dinner cruise.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Special Information
Travel time today is approximately 4 hours (225 kilometres).
Today you have a free day to partake in any of the optional activities you organised yesterday, or alternatively to relax and enjoy the gorgeous bay. Fancy a cruise to the Hole in the Rock, a full-day sailing tour or the chance to get airborne in a parasail? All these activities and more are available to book while you’re here.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bay of Islands: Boat Trip - Hole in Rock - NZD115
  • Bay of Islands: Cape Reinga - Full day (From price) - NZD138
  • Bay of Islands: Sailing - Full day - NZD120
  • Bay of Islands: Parasail (From price) - NZD99
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Embrace an early start and head back down south to Rotorua, passing back through Auckland. Rotorua is full of geysers and boiling mud pools caused by extensive geothermal activity. It’s also considered the Maori heartland and a place where many ancient traditions live on. This evening choose whether to participate in an optional Maori cultural experience, which includes a traditional hangi dinner (where food is cooked either underground or in the naturally boiling spring waters. You can also talk to your leader about booking an optional night walk through the nearby redwood forest, where you can stroll the canopy in the light of lanterns hung in the 100-year-old trees.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rotorura: Maori Cultural Evening - NZD118
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Total driving time today is around 7 hours (approximately 420 km).

The smell in Rotorua can be off-putting at first due to the geothermal gases released by pools and geysers. Some people find it more intense than others, but most people get used to it quickly.
After breakfast,  another free day in gorgeous surrounds means you can be as active or restful as you’d like. Maybe head to Dansey Road Scenic Reserve for a tour with kiwi bird experts and a zip-lining adventure through 1000-year-old canopy. You could also do a tour that combine trips to the glow-worm caves of Waitomo and the film set of Hobbiton (where the Shire sections of Lord of the Rings were filmed). If you’re flush with cash, consider the once-in-a-lifetime chance to reach White Island – an active marine volcano – by helicopter. If you’re after a relaxing day, perhaps hang back and soak in the thermal pools or mud baths.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Rotorua: River Rafting - NZD239
  • Rotorua: White island active volcano (3.5hr helicopter) - NZD1195
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Eat breakfast then make tracks for the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute before heading out of town to the spectacular Huka Falls, where a 100-metre-wide river is forced to travel through a narrow volcanic channel, resulting in a powerful rush of water. Spend a little time on the viewing bridge snapping pictures, then continue to Taupo. Once in Taupo you’ll have enough time (around 3 hours) to squeeze in an optional bungy jump or a ride in a speedboat (both subject to availability and extra cost). If you’d prefer you can always relax on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake. Continue to Mt Ruapehu to get ready for our next day's activities. You're situated in the heart of the wilderness up here, in cosy lodgings with a spa and an excellent restaurant on site. Those tackling the Tongariro Alpine Crossing tomorrow will want to get a good rest.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Rotorua - Te Puia Maori Art & Cultural Centre
Optional Activities
  • Taupo: Mountain Biking - NZD35
  • Taupo: Bungy Jumping (From price) - NZD180
  • Taupo: Jet Boating (From price) - NZD155
  • Thermal Baths from - NZD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Total driving time is around 2.5 hours (approximately 180 km).
Today you can choose whether to tackle the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This full-day (approximately 7-hour) hike is considered one of the best in New Zealand and offers rocky trails, magnificent aquamarine lakes and volcanic steam vents. This approximately 20-kilometre trail through remarkable landscapes is no walk in the park – trekkers need to have a good level of fitness and the track is tough in parts. For those who don’t want to take on this all-day trek, there are plenty of shorter walks and tracks that begin near the accommodation. It’s also possible to book an optional scenic flight to get a bird’s eye view of the area.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tongariro Crossing - NZD40
  • Mt Ruapehu: Scenic flights over volcanos (From price) Minimum 2 pax - NZD125
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Tongariro National Park behind and head to the New Zealand capital of Wellington. With more eateries per capita than New York City, Wellington is a fantastic place for foodies. It's also home to the world-class Te Papa Tongarewa (Container of Treasures) museum, which you’ll visit today. In your free time, perhaps ride the free cable car to the Botanic Gardens for some spectacular views of the city and the harbour. Maybe take a walk down Cuba Street this evening and grab a drink in one of the many bars.
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wellington - Te Papa Museum
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Total driving time is around 5.5 hours (approximately 330 km).
Eat breakfast in Wellington, then cross over to the South Island today via the Marlborough Sounds on a scenic ferry ride. Once upon a time, rising sea levels filled valleys with water, resulting in the stunning waterways and steep islands (formerly mountaintops) you see today. Continue to picturesque Nelson, which enjoys the sunniest weather in all of New Zealand. Enjoy free time to explore at your own pace on arrival.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wellington: Scenic Cruise through Marlborough Sound across to the North Island
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Total driving time is around 2 hours (approximately 130 km).
Take a day to explore Nelson with a huge amount of optional activities to choose from. Take a kayak or sailing tour through the waters of Abel Tasman National Park, or maybe a tour of the coves and bush trails. Of course, if you’d prefer to explore on your own, you can buy a ticket on the shuttle and head to the Abel Tasman to explore independently. Whatever you choose, have plenty of space left on your memory card, because the photo opportunities are many. Tonight, you’ll have an included dinner at your accommodation to look forward to.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kayak Tour from - NZD140
  • Abel Tasman National Park - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Drive the beautiful coastline to Kaikoura, known for its rich marine life. On arrival you’re free to explore this mountainous coastal town. Two of the most popular activities on offer here are sperm whale watching and swimming with wild dolphins. Chat to your leader about how to book these optional activities. If you prefer to stay dry there are plenty of hikes in the area, either along the coast or into the bush. In the evening, consider trying the excellent local seafood, such as crayfish. After all, you're in the town named after it ('kai' means food and 'koura' means crayfish).
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Whale Watching - NZD155
  • Kaikoura - Swimming with the Dolphins - NZD180
  • Kaikoura - Albatross watch - NZD130
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Total driving time is around 4 hours (approximately 240 km).
Kia ora! Welcome to Christchurch, New Zealand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm, where you’ll meet your group leader and new travel crew. If you arrive early into the city, you could go exploring – Christchurch has so much to explore and today is a great chance to get your bearings around this city on the Avon River. Your evening is the free to do as you wish, and with a whole new range of pop up cafes, restaurants and bars check out, why not get a group of your travel pals together and get to know each other over a meal.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive to the welcome meeting in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
You’ll depart Christchurch early this morning on your South Island adventure. Head through the Canterbury Plains, passing sweeping farmlands framed by snow-capped peaks before hitting the wild west coast. You’ll notice the changing scenery from arid landscapes on the island’s east to the greener pastures as you cross the Southern Alps. Stop by Punakaiki today with a variety of activities you might choose to opt in for – perhaps you’d like to explore the popular Pancake Rocks and the Blowholes at Dolomite Point on a 1-kilometre walking loop, take a hike along the Pororari River Track, passing limestone cliffs and through sub-tropical forest, or simply laze beachside at this sleepy town. It’s all up to you and your group’s desires. Afterwards, hop back on the road and make your way to Greymouth for the night.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 300 km, taking around 5 hours. The total distance you’ll walk is 1-10 kilometres, depending on what activities you choose to partake in.
This morning, enjoy an included breakfast with your group in Greymouth. Afterwards, you have the option of discovering Greymouth’s history of coal mining – an industry that has had an interesting past and is considered the birthplace of the modern kiwi lunch break. Continue south to Franz Josef Glacier in time for lunch. This afternoon, enjoy a special visit to the West Coast Wildlife Centre to view one of the most endangered animals on earth – the kiwi. Your group leader will organise a 24-hour pass for you to be admitted into the nocturnal viewing area. This wildlife centre is home to the rarest of the rare – the rowi and Haast tokoeka kiwis, with only around 500 of each bird remaining, because of introduced predators and habitat loss. Tonight is free for you to choose what to do – perhaps grab a bite to eat with your group in town.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 180 km, taking around 3 hours.
Today is free to do as much or as little as you please. You might like to head back to the West Coast Wildlife Centre to see the kiwis one more time, take some time to relax in town, or it might be time for the main event: the Franz Josef Glacier. This glacier is one of the steepest in New Zealand, descending from a height of 3000 to 240 metres over a distance of 11 kilometres, and into the native rainforest of Wetlands National Park at its base. Because of its composition, Franz Josef Glacier shifts around 50 centimetres per day, moving faster than the average glacier. There are a number of ways in which you can visit the glacier – there’s guided glacier hikes, kayaking opportunities, or if you want to splash out, why not book yourself in on an unforgettable scenic helicopter flight, enjoying unrivalled views over the region, and some with the option of landing on the glacier for a heli-hike experience. Speak to your group leader about all the options today; they’ll be able to help you organise a memorable day.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kiwi House
Optional Activities
  • Glacier Flights from - NZD280
  • Glacier Hike from - NZD485
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Optional activities driving times and distances are dependent on what you choose to partake in today. Please note that some ice walks can be up to 18 kilometres in length, so it is recommended you have at least a moderate level of fitness if you choose to experience the glacier up close.
Leave Franz Josef town in your dust, driving the remainder of the West Coast. From there, wind up through the Southern Alps before arriving at Lake Wanaka for a lunch stop. Today is one you want to shotgun a window seat – some of the views on your drive are out of this world! Head onwards towards Queenstown, en route stopping by Arrowtown, which is famous for its Autumn festival. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world, with something for every type of activity seeker. It’s not all about the adrenaline junkie – sure, there is bungy jumping, jetboating, paragliding and white-water rafting, but there’s also some incredible hikes to embark on, and some fine food and wine around. With two full days to experience Queenstown at your own pace, you’ll be able to achieve the perfect balance.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Arrowtown Visit
Optional Activities
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD205
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • River Rafting - NZD220
  • Paragliding - NZD205
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 360 km, taking around 6 hours. The total distance you’ll walk today is 1-2 kilometres, depending on what you choose to explore on your driving stops.
Queenstown and the surrounding region will spoil you for choice today (and tomorrow!) when you can choose your own adventure, however thrill-seeking or chilled out that may be. Jump in a jet boat, off a bridge or out of a plane, weave your way down the river by raft, kayak or paragliding, see the countryside by mountain bike, hiking, scenic flight, or relax with a glass of wine overlooking Lake Wakatipu – it’s up to you! Depending on the season, there may be other weather specific activities that you might like to consider – be sure to ask your group leader for their recommendations at the time of your adventure and the costs for each. In the evening, see the stunning city by lights and lake by night with an included dinner at the renowned Stratosfare Restaurant at Skyline. Located high above Queenstown, this restaurant is surely a memorable experience for anyone visiting New Zealand, and with an included gondola ride up the mountain, you’ll be getting a birds-eye view all the way.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD205
  • Paragliding - NZD205
  • Mountain Biking Tours - NZD170
Meals Included
  • Dinner (1)
Special Information
As tourism is at an all-time high in New Zealand, your tour leader will discuss optional activities with you prior to arriving in Queenstown to let you know what’s available, and to lock in any popular activities so as to avoid disappointment.

Please note that driving times and walking distances will depend on what activities you decide to take part in.
Take a break from the activity of Queenstown on a drive towards Milford Sound, known locally as Piopiotahi. Here, board a nature cruise through the fjord to the Tasman Sea, feeling dwarfed by the imposing mountains like Mitre Peak, passing the stunning Stirling and Lady Bowen falls, soaking up the airbrushed nature surrounding you and breathing in the crisp mountain air. Be sure to keep an eye out for marine life like dolphins and fur seals passing you by on the boat! Lunch is included with your cruise today. After your on-water adventure, continue on to Te Anau – home of New Zealand’s second largest lake of the same name.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Milford Sound cruise
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Special Information
The total driving time today is around 7 hours.

In the event that there are not enough sufficient rooms in Te Anau to accommodate your group tonight, you will return to Queenstown to stay the night.
Head on your way back north towards the spectacular Aoraki, Mt Cook. Standing at an impressive 3724 m (12,316 ft), this is the highest mountain in New Zealand. One you’re there, take some time to explore the nearby lakes, stream and glaciers in the surrounding national park. You’ll have today and tomorrow to embark on some nature hikes, check out the local museum, or go in search for the world's only true alpine parrot, the Kea. If you’d like, you may like to book in to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, where you’ll learn about the history of the Mt Cook region and pioneer explorer Sir Edmund Hillary. Here, there will also be the option to see a 360-degree multimedia experience focused on all things space. Your group leader will have some great itineraries planned, so ask them for more information about your time in Mt Cook.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (1)
  • Dinner (1)
Special Information
The total driving time today is around 7 hours.
This morning, leave Mt Cook National Park, and make tracks back to Christchurch. Depending on driving times and stops, you’ll aim to arrive early afternoon, however you may arrive as late as 6 pm, so please take this into consideration when booking any onward flights. Once in the city, your group leader will drop you off in a centrally located hotel, and will be able to advise of onward connections. There is no accommodation provided for tonight, so you are free to leave at any time once you’ve arrived in Christchurch.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
The total driving distance today is approximately 325 km, taking around 5 hours.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners

Transport

Ferry, Van

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nights), Motel (2 nights) Lodge (16 nights)

Included activities

  • Rotorua - Te Puia Maori Art & Cultural Centre
  • Wellington - Te Papa Museum
  • Wellington: Scenic Cruise through Marlborough Sound across to the North Island
  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
  • Kiwi House
  • Arrowtown Visit
  • Milford Sound cruise

Dates & availability

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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. This trip also runs in reverse, see tour code PTOACU.
4. A single supplement is available on this trip and is valid for each night.

Essential trip information

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