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.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Auckland, New Zealand
Finish
Christchurch, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer, Wildlife
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

  • 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

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

Kia-ora! Welcome to New Zealand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm – ask the hotel reception for the details. As soon as you arrive in this beautiful harbourside town you're surrounded by friendly locals, volcanoes and a strong sense of Maoritanga (the Maori way of life). There is a distinct Pacific flavour 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 can take a day trip to one of the many outer islands in the Hauraki Gulf, hike to one of the 22 nearby volcanoes, or keep it simple with a stroll and a coffee (the lively Ponsonby area is just a short walk away).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Skytower, Auckland - NZD30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where tonight's welcome meeting will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive 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). 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.
Departing Auckland this morning, head north to the beautiful Bay of Islands (approximately 4 hours; 225 kilometres). 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. There will be stops in small towns so you can stretch your legs and grab a snack. Arriving in Paihia, where we'll spend the night, settle into your accommodation and enjoy the sea breeze. This afternoon is a good time to get to know your fellow travellers – perhaps over one of New Zealand's many renowned white wines or small-batch craft beers. It's also a good time to peruse the list of Bay of Islands optional activities, as there are lots to choose from.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Whether you're kayaking under a waterfall, cruising in search of seabirds, taking photos from stunning lookout points, or exploring historic towns and sites, the Bay of Islands is a delight to explore. Cruising to Roberton Island is a good option – you'll get a sense of the area's rich history from local guides. The Bay of Islands is where the treaty of Waitangi was signed between 500 Maori chiefs and the British Crown, and a trip to the Treaty Grounds to learn more about this is well worth your time. The town of Russell is also a great spot to visit. Russell used to be called the Hellhole of the North; it was a seedy hangout for drunken sailors, back when it was the capital city. Now it's a lovely seaside town full of history and atmosphere (look out for the gigantic Moreton Bay Fig Tree, planted in 1870).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Boat Trip - Hole in Rock - NZD110
  • Kayak Tours - NZD79
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Embrace an early start as you make your way back down south, to Waitomo. We'll be travelling back through Auckland, crossing the harbour bridge for a fantastic view of the 'City of Sails'. After stopping for lunch in Auckland, continue to Waitomo, where you'll stay right among the hills in a cosy mountain cabin. Waitomo is perhaps most famous for its limestone caves and stunning glow worms. Blackwater rafting in the caves may be possible as early as this evening, and it's an unforgettable experience. If you choose this optional activity, you'll jump into a wetsuit and descend with your local guide into a cave at dusk, then float along an underground stream in an old inflatable tyre tube (your trusty 'raft'). Along the way there are glow worms (which you'll learn more about from the guide) glittering on the walls of the cave. There's plenty of time for a warm shower and a nice meal afterwards. The local pub (just next door to your accommodation) has a great selection of beers and a menu of hearty pub classics; the organic cafe nearby is also a great choice for dinner.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Waitomo - Caves Entrance
Optional Activities
  • Black Water Rafting from - NZD135
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Total driving time today is around six and a half hours (approximately 420 km).
After spending some more time in Waitomo this morning, head to Rotorua after lunch. In Rotorua we'll see geysers and boiling mud pools in an amazing display of mother earth's power. This all happens at Te Puia, site of the New Zealand Arts and Crafts Institute. The geysers here erupt regularly, and the Maori guides will show you around, explaining the significance of this land to their ancestors. You can view a rare Kiwi bird here and learn more about New Zealand's great efforts to conserve them. This evening there's the option of a traditional Maori Hangi dinner at Mitai Village, a Maori village where a troupe of perormers dazzle with their tribal singining and dancing. Before you leave Rotorua, consider going zip-lining through the nearby virgin native forest. It's a great chance to not only get some thrills from up high out in nature, but learn the ins and outs of local efforts to save the Kiwi bird.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Maori Cultural Evening - NZD80
  • River Rafting - NZD200
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information

Notes: Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 140kms).
Head south to Taupo, home of extreme sports on the North Island. On the way we visit the spectacular Huka Falls, a lush stream that cascades powerfully underneath a viewing bridge. This is one for the photographers. In Taupo there's the opportunity to go jet-boating, or simply relax by the world's biggest crater lake. We then drive on 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. It's a nice opportunity to relax before some hiking tomorrow. Those doing the Tongariro Crossing tomorrow will want to get a good rest.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Rotorua - Te Puia Maori Art & Cultural Centre
Optional Activities
  • Mountain Biking - NZD60
  • Bungy Jumping from - NZD170
  • Jet Boating from - NZD120
  • Thermal Baths from - NZD15
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Notes: Total driving time is around two and a half hours (approximately 180kms).
There are several options for today, the major one being the Tongariro Crossing. If you'd rather do something less rigorous, however, there are many shorter and easily accessible hikes on offer (see the reception at your lodge for more infomation). Those hiking the Tongariro Crossing – brace yourself for adventure. This is a full day hike and people should have a decent level of fitness to take it on. It's well worth the labour – it's considered NZ´s best one day hike and has fantastic views along the way, with crater lakes and majestic mountain landscapes to admire. It's quite strenuous though, and 20 kilometres long, so it's best to prepare for all kinds of weather and eat a solid breakfast first!
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tongariro Crossing - NZD35
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Departing the National Park, we head through the central north island to the capital city, 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 museum, which we'll visit while we're here. As well as stunning Maori artifacts and contemporary art collections, the museum boasts the largest specimen of colossal squid. Captured in 2007, it weighs in around 495 kg. In your free time, perhaps jump in the cable car to the Botanic Gardens for some spectacular views of Wellington city and harbour. Be sure to take a walk down Cuba Street, hip strip of cafes, boutiques and bars that has something for everyone.

Notes: Total driving time is around four and a half hours (approximately 330kms).
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wellington - Te Papa Museum
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we cross to the South Island on the inter island ferry and enjoy the incredible scenery of the Marlborough Sounds. While the Bay of Islands enjoys its 'Winterless North' tag, it's actually Nelson that enjoys the sunniest weather in all of New Zealand. We have a huge variety of activities to choose from here, including kayaking, boating and sailing around Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson is very picturesque, but also has plenty of great dining options and art galleries, so don't be afraid to kick back and relax if you want to take a break from outdoor activities.

Notes: Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 130kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Scenic Cruise via Queen Charlotte Sounds
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a great opportunity to visit Abel Tasman National Park (optional). Its bushwalking tracks, weaving among the gorgeous inlets and coves, are just begging to be explored, and a ride in a water taxi is a must-do. Have plenty of space left on your memory card, because the photo opportunities are many. Abel Tasman National Park is actually New Zealand's smallest national park, but that's one of the great things about it. It's easy to relax on the beach, go kayaking among the seabirds (gannets, blue penguins, cormorants), or dive straight into a brisk walk in the forest. There's an interesting old Maori fortress to visit also.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kayak Tour from - NZD140
  • Abel Tasman National Park - Free
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Leaving Nelson, head for the beautiful coastline of Kaikoura where many adventures await. Perhaps best of all is the whale and dolphin watching. For many travellers this will be a highlight of the trip, and the chances of making sightings are quite high. Also keep an eye out for petrels, New Zealand fur seals, and dolphins. Other optional activities include swimming with dolphins, fishing, and albatross-viewing tours. If you want to really take the adventure up a notch, scenic flights are also possible. 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).

Notes: Total driving time is around four hours (approximately 240kms).
Accommodation
  • Motel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kaikoura Seal Colony
Optional Activities
  • Whale Watching - NZD155
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This trip is a combination of two of our most popular New Zealand itineraries. As such the make up of your group may change today. Today is a free day to explode more of Christchurch at your leisure. Your guide will hold a joining meeting this evening for travellers joining today. Its a good chance to go along and meet some new faces.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The drive down the coast later today is beautiful. You have plenty of time in the morning and afternoon to take part in optional 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 distance takes around three hours (approximately 180kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
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 unrivaled views of the region on a scenic flight (at your own cost).

Notes: Total driving time is around 30 minutes (approximately 10kms). Total distance walked will be between one and five kilometres.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kiwi House
Optional Activities
  • Glacier Flights from - NZD195
  • Glacier Hike from - NZD339
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Lake Matheson
  • Arrowtown Tour
Optional Activities
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD135
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • River Rafting - NZD220
  • Paragliding NZ - NZD200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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). This evening, head out for an included dinner at the renowned Skyline Restaurant - Stratosfare.

Notes: Total driving time is around one hour (approximately 10kms).
Walking distance will depend on what activities you take part in.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD135
  • Paragliding NZ - NZD200
  • Mountain Biking Tours - NZD170
Meals Included
  • Dinner (1)
Head out after breakfast and take a break from the adrenaline rush of Queenstown, as you drive to Milford Sound (Piopiotahi) to board your cruise boat for a trip through the fjords. This place is stunning with tall mountain peaks (spot Mitre Peak - Rahotu) and Stirling and Lady Bowen Falls, as well as numerous temporary waterfalls after rain. Continue on to Te Anau .


Notes: Total driving time is around 6 hours.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Milford Sound cruise
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Be dwarfed by spectacular Aoraki (Mt Cook) which, at an impressive 3,754 m (12,316 ft), is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Explore meadows, lakes, streams and glaciers that shelter the world's only alpine parrot, the kea.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • 360 Degree Screen Documentary - NZD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (1)
This morning we depart Mt Cook in the morning making our way 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).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

6 breakfasts, 4 dinners

Transport

Ferry, Van

Accommodation

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

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
  • Kiwi House
  • Lake Matheson
  • Arrowtown Tour
  • 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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