This tour covers both the North and South Islands. Visit the geothermal areas and glow-worm caves on the North Island. Then, experience the sheer splendour of the Southern Alps and Fiordland in the South.
You will have enough time to shop in the larger cities and participate in fun activities. The highlights include the geothermal areas of Rotorua, the glow-worm caves in Waitomo, a cruise at Milford Sound, a helicopter flight, and a landing on a glacier.
Day 9: Mt Cook or Tekapo - Christchurch or Akaroa Peninsula
Category: Culture, Active
Location: North & South Island
Departing/Finishing: Auckland (Itinerary can be reversed)
4* or 5* quality Hotels, boutique B&Bs, Luxury Serviced Apartments
Next Departure: Departs Daily
Imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting holiday islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping, and you’re beginning to get the picture of Auckland, our largest and most diverse city.
Optional City Tour: Visit One Tree Hill with 360 views of Auckland City, historic Auckland Cathedral, relax at the waterfront, explore the Auckland Domain and Winter Garden, drive over the iconic Harbour bridge to historical Devonport or explore Auckland’s glorious West Coast and Waitakere Ranges.
Accommodation: Auckland City
One of the major attractions of the region is the famous Waitomo Caves. It is renowned for its underground adventure. Take a short walk through breath-taking New Zealand native bush to the cave entrance. There, your guide lights the candles setting the scene for an intimate cave experience, where you will see glow worms and cave formations up close and appreciate the beauty of Footwhistle Cave.
Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers and natural hot springs, and showcasing our fascinating Māori culture. Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland. Journey to a time of proud warriors and an ancient way of life within a Māori Village. Embrace powerful performances, ceremonial rituals and a traditional Hangi feast.
Or: Helicopter to the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory. Landing on Mount Tarawera offers a privileged view of spectacular craters and domes formed by the 1886 eruption. Here you will enjoy an interesting commentary based on the region’s history, culture and geology.
Accommodation: Rotorua or Lake Taupo
On the way to Taupo stop at Wai-O-Tapu geothermal wonderland, an area in which the landscape has been sculptured by geothermal activity and where unique volcanic features can be viewed from well-defined tracks. Unique features include the world-famous Champagne Pool's naturally coloured springs, bubbling mud, steaming ground, expansive vistas, huge volcanic craters and sinter terrace formations.
Lake Taupo, the largest Lake in this country and also the world’s largest volcanic crater, was created in one giant explosion nearly two thousand years ago it darkened the skies in Europe and China. Taupo is famous for its fishing and its trophy-sized trout.
The Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, moves gracefully north from Lake Taupo between banks 100 metres apart. At Huka Falls you can witness the phenomenon of natural hydropower - more than 220, 000 litres of water per second. You have the option of taking an exhilarating jet boat ride.
Accommodation: Rotorua or Lake Taupo
New Zealand’s dramatic scenery - golden plains, towering mountains and enchanting valleys - plays the mythical world of Middle‑earth on the big screen in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy. Experience the real Middle-earth at the Hobbiton Movie Set, where you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire.
The city of Hamilton is nestled on the banks of the mighty Waikato River and is known for its walks, gardens, cafes and nightlife.
Or: Visit Hamilton Gardens, a botanic garden like no other, with its 58-hectares it is a world of horticultural skill and imagination.
In the morning, we depart with a domestic flight from Auckland to Queenstown. Queenstown is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier four-season lake and alpine resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalising. The region is renowned for incredible adventure activities and spectacular outdoor terrain. You could try skiing, snowboarding, bungy jumping, paragliding, skydiving and more!
Or: if you want something a little more relaxed, you can choose from numerous family activities, nature experiences, tours and beauty spas. Queenstown has transformed into a sophisticated cosmopolitan town, tucked into a picturesque bay on the shores of Lake Wakatipu beneath majestic mountains. There’s a permanent buzz in downtown Queenstown, where you’ll find fantastic restaurants, a lively bar scene and excellent shopping.
Sit back and relax and take in the stunning views as you ride the Skyline Queenstown Gondola - the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, where you’ll enjoy the best views in the region unfolding before your eyes.
Accommodation: Queenstown or Lake Wanaka
In the morning take a unique breathtaking ride through dramatic and narrow canyons, and hold on tight for Queenstown’s only exhilarating full 360° spins. ‘Can you handle the canyons?’ with 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.
Drive through the famous Kawarau valley and gorge. Visit the surrounding areas to Arthur's Point, and stop in Arrowtown, a historic colonial village that takes you back into the Gold Mining days of the Otago region. Or: Stop at, which is widely regarded as a safe spectator attraction, the famous Kawarau Gorge Bungy Jumping exhibition.
Central Otago is New Zealand’s fastest-growing wine region and also its most scenic. At some stage of the wine tour, we suggest stopping for a relaxing lunch at one of the wineries.
Or: Only 45m west, you find a little Paradise in the tiny settlement of Glenorchy. This is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand and a favourite location in several Hollywood film productions and commercials worldwide. Glenorchy is one of the gateways to Mt. Aspiring National Park, covering a prominent World Heritage area.
Accommodation: Queenstown or Lake Wanaka
Spectacular Milford Sound, described by Rudyard Kipling as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” which was carved out during successive ice ages and, at its deepest point off Mitre Peak, plunges to a depth of 265 meters. The awesome splendour of this region is unsurpassed anywhere else in the World, a daring claim in a country which offers extraordinary beauty around every corner.
Getting there is half of the experience; we take you through the Fiordland National Park, past staggeringly beautiful valleys, lakes and creeks. Stop at the “Mirror Lakes”, before entering the narrow and dark 1km long Homer Tunnel. You may encounter Kea’s, New Zealand’s cheeky alpine parrots and we stop and explore some of nature’s wonders on the way. Take a boardwalk into the “Chasm” to see surreal, water-hewn rock sculptures.
Cruise into the magnificent wonder-world of the Milford Sound. Board a vessel and cruise on the Fiord through sheer cliffs covered with vegetation that plunges into the sea. View the Bowen Falls, hurtling 165 meters into the sea, and the Stirling Falls further down the sound, set amidst the towering cliffs and dwarfed by Mitre Peak.
Or: Alternatively, catch a helicopter from Milford Sound for one of the most diverse short helicopter flights in the whole of New Zealand from the ocean to the glacier. Or: decide on a longer flight to Doubtful Sound.
Accommodation: Te Anau
Speckled with small agricultural outposts, the Canterbury Plains are an area of serene, rural beauty. Our trip will take us through some of the most evocative Hill countries in New Zealand. To the east lies the coastal town of Timaru while, to the west, the Mackenzie Country accounts for a large percentage of New Zealand’s sheep population.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is home of the highest mountains and the longest glaciers. It is alpine in the purest sense - with skyscraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snowfields, all set under a star-studded sky. Although it encompasses 23 peaks over 3000 metres, this park is accessible. State Highway 80 leads to Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, beside scenic Lake Pukaki and provides a comfortable base for alpine activities.
Fly in a ski plane and a helicopter on the same day for an unforgettable experience of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Enjoy a scenic adventure that includes a glacier snow landing on the Tasman Glacier! From take-off to landing, you will enjoy spectacular views! Fly up the Tasman Valley over the breathtaking blue glacier lake. See the Hochstetter Icefall and the cloud-piercing Aoraki/Mount Cook before landing on the upper snowfields of the Tasman Glacier.
Far from city lights, the stargazing here is magnificent - Aoraki Mount Cook National Park forms most of New Zealand's only International Dark Sky Reserve.
Or: Take the Glacier Explorer boat cruise, a small boat trip to the bottom of Tasman Glacier. The only tour of its kind in New Zealand, and one of three in the world! Very few glaciers terminate into lakes and even fewer of these are accessible to the average person.
Accommodation: Mt Cook or Lake Tekapo
Christchurch is a vibrant, energetic city where urban regeneration, creativity and innovation thrive. Picture unique street art, innovative projects, a booming hospitality scene and state-of-the-art architecture changing how the city looks, feels and functions – all the while staying true to its heritage and traditional English feel.
Take time to explore the city by double-decker bus, vintage bicycle, or tram – or grab your walking shoes and discover bars, eateries and an eclectic mix of boutique shops by foot. The city's award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens offer a relaxing inner-city escape near The Arts Centre.
Punting on the Avon River is an iconic Christchurch activity not to be missed. Admire the beautiful Christchurch Botanic Gardens or the changing face of the city centre as you are expertly guided gently along the Avon River on our authentic Edwardian punting tours.
Or: An accessible drive southeast of Christchurch, Banks Peninsula is the South Island's most interesting volcanic feature. Initially, an island formed by two volcanic cones, the peninsula has two dominant craters, which form Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbours. The only French settlement in New Zealand was located on the southeast side of the deep, sheltered Akaroa.
Or: Voted the number 1 wildlife activity in New Zealand, take a Nature harbour cruise with highlights including the rare NZ native dolphin - the Hector's Dolphin, penguins, and other seabirds. And you'll see giant volcanic sea cliffs and hear about Akaroa's fascinating past.
Accommodation: Christchurch or Akaroa Peninsula
A short drive will take you to your departing flight in Christchurch.