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15-Day Traditional Highlights Tour of New Zealand

15-Day Traditional Highlights Tour of New Zealand

This sample itinerary is a tried-and-true favourite, a gateway to our country's unique wonders. It's your dream to visit us; you've heard so much about our one-of-a-kind iconic attractions, and this could be your only chance to see them.

Embark on an adventure as you indulge in the tranquillity of the Viaduct (Americas Cup Village) in the City of Sails, marvel at the ethereal glowworms, and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of our Māori history in Rotorua's cultural and thermal wonderland. Traverse the majestic Southern Alps via the renowned Arthur Pass and venture into the heart of the pristine rainforest. Experience the thrill of a helicopter ride, touch down on the unique West Coast glaciers, and feel the adrenaline rush of an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Shotover River. Finally, navigate the breathtaking world of our Fiordland National Park. 

Day 1: Auckland arrival
  • Airport Meet and Greet, transfer to hotel. A day at your leisure.

  • Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland is a multi-cultural urban oasis of food, music, arts and culture. It's where sparkling waters and lush landscapes meet city sophistication. Auckland has an impressive variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars that suit every taste and budget. Modern dining in the inner city is at Britomart, Commercial Bay, Federal Street and City Works Depot. Enjoy dinner and drinks or a casual bite on Auckland's beautiful waterfront in the Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter precincts. 
Day 2: Auckland – Hobbiton - Waitomo Caves
  • Just south of Auckland lies the Waikato region. Well-known for its underground wonders, black sand surf beaches and rolling green hills, the Waikato region offers many nature-based activities and attractions surrounding a vibrant city hub.

  • Experience Middle‑earth™ with a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Your guided tour starts with a drive through our picturesque 1,250-acre sheep farm, which offers spectacular views across the Kaimai Ranges.

  • Waitomo Caves - Under the green hills of Waitomo lies a labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). Explore a World of Glow Worms with our Private Cave Tours on our Family Farm! 
Day 3: Waitomo - Rotorua
  • Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, and natural hot springs, showcasing our fascinating Māori culture.

  • Join experienced and take an immersive journey where you'll learn about Kiwis, their native environment, and what makes them genuinely iconic worldwide. Delve into darkness and spot Kiwis in our purpose-built nocturnal house, and discover the secrets of the Kiwi in our interactive displays. 

  • Te Puia is New Zealand's geothermal wonderland, featuring dramatic geysers, bubbling mud pools, traditional Māori carvers and weavers at our national schools, Kiwi birds, and our world-famous restaurant, Pātaka Kai. Here, enjoy a conventional Dinner Show and Hangi meal.  
Day 4: Rotorua – Lake Taupo 
  • Explore places shaped and coloured by volcanic and geothermal forces for thousands of years. Wai-o-Tapu geothermal area features several exhilarating mud pools, geysers and sulphur pools. View the stunning Champagne Pool or marvel at the force of the Lady Knox Geyser.

  • Lake Taupo is on New Zealand's North Island and is in the caldera of Taupo Volcano. The beautiful Lake Taupō is about the size of Singapore—more of an inland sea. Just north of Taupō, New Zealand's most visited attraction is the magnificent Huka Falls, where more than 220,000 litres of water thunder over the cliff face every second.

  • The natural thermal springs at Wairakei Terraces in Taupō have provided sanctuary for Māori for hundreds of years. Today, Wairakei Terraces and their soothing hot pools still offer that same feeling of peace and serenity. 
Day 5: Taupo - Napier/Hawkes Bay
  • Napier's unique point of difference is its beautifully preserved 1930s architecture. Rebuilding began almost immediately, and new buildings reflected the architectural styles of the times - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission and Art Deco. 

  • Two words best describe Hawke's Bay: Wine Country. Explore wineries and sample locally produced fare. Mission Estate Winery, established in 1851 by pioneering French Missionaries, is New Zealand's oldest winery and the birthplace of New Zealand wine.

  • The Arataki Honey Visitor Centre is the showcase for our Arataki Honey brand. It can be found on its original site (1944) in Havelock North, close to the iconic Te Mata Peak.
Day 6: Hawkes Bay – Wairarapa - Wellington (2 nights)
  • Just one hour from Wellington, historic Greytown is known for its carefully restored Victorian buildings and top-notch shops. 

  • Martinborough features over 20 wineries packed with colonial charm, most within cycling and walking distance of the quaint village square. Some of New Zealand's best pinot noir comes from the town's predominately family-owned vineyards, so it's not surprising it is a crucial stop on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Day 7: Wellington 
  • Wellington, situated at the southern end of the North Island, offers a great mix of art, culture, history, nature and craft beer. Find out more about 'the coolest little capital'. Wander through hidden laneways to discover street art and follow the sculpture walks along Wellington's waterfront. 

  • Discover the stories of Aotearoa, New Zealand, in world-class museums and galleries – the interactive and immersive national museum, Te Papa, is a must-visit.

  • Ride the iconic Wellington Cable Car for fantastic city views while you enjoy an ice cream at the top. The Wellington Botanic Garden is a delightful experience, from ancient forests to colourful flower beds, completed by the great city and harbour views.

Day 8: Ferry Crossing - Kaikoura - Christchurch
  • The voyage between the North and South Islands has been described as one of the most beautiful ferry journeys in the world and is a 'must-do' experience for everyone exploring our stunning country. Cruise through the gorgeous Marlborough Sounds between Wellington and Picton on the Interislander. Soak in the changing scenery of Wellington city, the often-dramatic Te-Moana-Raukawa Cook Strait and gentler Queen Charlotte Sound.

  • The picturesque coastal town of Kaikōura is the perfect place for marine life encounters, coastal walks, and tucking into a plate of crayfish.

  • This vibrant city offers spectacular culture, heritage, and nightlife – along with the world's most stunning scenery, right on its doorstep.
Day 9: Christchurch – Tranz Alpine - Franz Josef Glacier
  • Explore the Southern Alps aboard the TranzAlpine train - one of the world's great train journeys, covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way and taking just under 5 hours.
  • Historic Hokitika is a place to appreciate the fascinating history of the West Coast. Hear about the shipwrecks, gold miners and pounamu hunters that lived in this stunning coastal area.

  • New Zealand contains many stunning glaciers, most located near the Main Divide in the Southern Alps in the South Island. The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers—some of New Zealand's most prominent and most visited—descend from the Southern Alps and flow almost to sea level. Seeing ancient rivers of ice descending past emerald green rainforest is a sight you'll never forget.

  • From above (Helicopter or Scenic flight), you can view and appreciate the incredible natural phenomenon of towering ice formations and the vast size of the glaciers. Top it off with a snow landing and standing on the ancient ice of the glaciers. 
Day 10: Franz Josef Glacier - Haast - Queenstown (2 nights)
  • The West Coast region of South Island is a wild place with rivers, rainforests, glaciers, and geological treasures. Enjoy coastal scenery and glaciers, or explore natural rivers and mountains on the West Coast.

  • Allow plenty of time to journey over Haast Pass to the coast. Short walks begin at the road's edge, leading you through the rainforest to fabulous waterfalls.

  • Located in the spectacular Alps of the South Island, visitors worldwide are drawn to the Wānaka region by its outstanding beauty. The stunning mountain and lakeside setting and proximity to Mt Aspiring National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Area.
Day 11:  Queenstown
  • Queenstown is an adventure hub With towering mountains and a lakeside location bursting with adrenaline and fun.

  • Arrowtown is a living historic settlement with many stories to tell. Wander the tree-lined streets of restored cottages and explore gold mining sites.

  • Can you handle the canyons with the award-winning Shotover Jet? 'The World's Most Exciting Jet Boat Ride' and the only company permitted to operate in the spectacular Shotover River Canyons.

  • It's one of the best ways to see Queenstown's surrounding landscape – a cruise across Lake Whakatipu aboard the iconic century-old coal-fired steamship, the TSS Earnslaw. Your trip will take you across the lake, past the Remarkables mountain range and Cecil Peak, to Walter Peak High Country Farm. If you would like to disembark at Walter Peak, you can choose to add a Walter Peak Farm Tour or our famous gourmet long lunch.

Day 12: Queenstown - Te Anau/Fiordland (2 nights)

  • Located in the beautiful Central Otago, Gibbston Valley Winery and Restaurant is world-renowned for handcrafting award-winning wines and for being home to the country's largest wine cave.

  • Shaped like a lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is the third-largest lake in New Zealand.

  • Nestled on the edge of a lake, Te Anau is the perfect town to base yourself on when visiting Milford Sound. 

  • Fiordlands' remarkable natural environment features stunning fiords, spectacular waterfalls, and snow-capped peaks. Ancient rainforest clings impossibly to the mountains, waterfalls tumble hundreds of meters into massive fiords, and shimmering lakes and granite peaks look the same today as they did a thousand years ago.

Day 13: Te Anau – Milford Sounds
  • The road journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound is one of the most scenic experiences you can have on four wheels.

  • Famously described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world', Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is breath-taking in any weather - with its fiord's cliffs, mountainous peaks and waterfalls as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, which often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.
  • Immerse yourself in the natural wonder of Fiordland National Park, one of the most spectacular parts of our beautiful country. Join us aboard the Milford Adventurer at Cruise Milford and enjoy this “must-do” New Zealand experience.
Day 14: Te Anau - Dunedin - Otago Peninsula (2 nights)
  • Ōtepoti Dunedin is a region of unique and beautiful landscapes, wildlife and fascinating cultural history.

  • Dunedin prides itself on its beautiful built heritage, stunning scenery, and unique biodiversity. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, picturesque harbour, Dunedin is one of the best-preserved Victorian and Edwardian cities in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Larnach Castle offers an insight into a wealthy Victorian lifestyle, complete with scandal and suicide. Its stunning gardens have recently been selected as Garden of International Significance.
Day 15: Otago Peninsula
  • Put a day aside to explore Otago Peninsula, where eco-experiences range from penguin and fur seal colonies to the toe-tingling cliffs of The Chasm and Lovers Leap.

  • Small guided groups offer close wildlife viewing of royal albatross, penguins, seals, sea lions, and many more animals in our private conservation area on the Otago Peninsula.
OUR Selection of Luxury Stays
Plan Your Tour


The itinerary will be 100% tailored to your interest and budget.
A personal and experienced driver-guide will make your trip seamless.
Discover some of the most beautiful locations on earth.
Experience some of the classic local activities in New Zealand.

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