You will be visiting New Zealand's highlights and experiencing stunning remote areas. You will stay at beautiful small B&Bs and lodges, of which several are situated in unique & special locations.
On this journey, you will be close, but far enough away from the main tourist centres. You meet locals, experience great adventures, and partake in activities that will leave fond memories. You will enjoy a private and friendly journey with us and an authentic New Zealand experience!
Category: Culture, Active
Location: North & South Island
Departing/Finishing: Auckland (Itinerary can be reversed)
Accommodation: 4* or 5* quality Hotels, boutique B&Bs, Luxury Serviced Apartments, Wilderness Lodges
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. Discover the diverse range of cafes and restaurants offering cuisine from around the globe. Soak up diverse shopping experiences and a delicious café culture on the ultimate day of shopping in the city – Auckland style
Or: Take a short ferry ride and visit the jewel of the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island. The Island is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves, farmland and golden beaches. You'll find beautiful galleries and craft boutiques in this homeland of artists. In addition, there are plenty of places to enjoy a good coffee or a taste of New Zealand's fresh Pacific Rim cuisine. The white sandy beaches at Oneroa, Palm Beach and Onetangi slope gently down into the Hauraki Gulf. They are perfect for swimming, kayaking, strolling along or having a picnic in the sun. The island also boasts more than a dozen high-quality vineyards, many with relaxed restaurants onsite. Enjoy local wine while looking out over vine-covered valleys to the blue sea beyond.
Enjoy your meal as you sail around the beautiful Auckland Harbour, taking in the view as the city lights up. You'll be treated to canapés and a drink as you set off towards Westhaven Marina. Choose between a formal dinner in the downstairs cabin or taking in the iconic sights of the Auckland Harbour while you eat on the deck. A decadent dessert will then be yours to savour as you set sail.
Accommodation: Auckland City
Rapaura Water Gardens is an example of a man in harmony with nature. Abundant native bush and ferns, birds (Tui's, Fantails, Silver Eyes and Wood Pigeons), meandering walk over bridges and streams and a bush walk to a cascading waterfall. There are seasonal displays of native and exotic flowers. Irises and Bog plants in spring, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, followed by Orchids, Begonias, Hydrangeas and Water Lilies from November to April. All interspersed with garden art.
The Coromandel, renowned for its pristine beaches, misty forests and laid-back vibe, is one of New Zealand's most popular holiday destinations. A binocular view across the gulf from Auckland, The Coromandel is everything that a big city isn't. It is rustic, unspoiled and relaxed, with a mountainous interior cloaked in the native rainforest and over 400 kilometres of dazzling white sand beaches. Sit and relax in a warm, bubbling pool at Hot Water Beach, where you can dig your spa for two hours on either side of low tide.
Or: Explore one of the world's most stunning pieces of coastline, including Cathedral Cove, sea caves, volcanic rock formations and pinnacles, plus the marine reserve above and below the surface by boat. What sets us above the rest is that we can take you below and show you what lives in the marine reserve. So sit back and watch the incredible marine life through the glass panels or take the plunge and snorkel amongst the fish.
Or: Rated by New Zealand's leading tour companies as one of the best sea kayaking trips in the country, the "Cathedral Cove Classic" has got it all. The Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve opens up a sea kayaking paradise full of beaches, islands and rock gardens just waiting to be explored. Paddle through sea caves, interact with the local marine life and discover the thrill of kayak sailing with the wind on your back...To top it off, we land at Cathedral Cove, where you will be treated to our world-famous cappuccinos and hot chocolates on the beach!
The Bay of Plenty region is home to spectacular beaches, juicy kiwifruit and New Zealand's only active marine volcano. Tauranga is the largest city in the Bay of Plenty and one of the fastest-growing population centres in the country.
Mount Maunganui is a magnet for surfers all year round. At the very tip of the peninsula is a distinctive peak - Mauao - which rises to 230 metres above sea level. There's a choice of tracks leading to the summit, some more challenging than others. Vast views of the harbour, beach and Pacific Ocean make an effort worthwhile. If you love boutique shopping, Mount Maunganui's main street is ideal.
Relax on the edge of tranquil Lake McLaren and enjoy locally produced refreshments while watching the ducks and swans prepare for their evening. Our kayak tour guides will lead you to the lake at dusk to watch the sunset over the rolling hills. Then, gently paddle on your kayak into the night and discover the magic of the enchanting glow-worm canyon.
For over 200 years, the Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao tribe have welcomed visitors into our backyard, opening the doors to their way of life and sharing the geothermal treasures. Take part in this tradition as an honoured guest at Whakarewarewa, The Living Māori Village. Our authentic culture is what makes Te Whakarewarewa such a unique attraction. Enjoy a geothermally cooked Hangi meal and participate in our daily cultural performances featuring the famous Māori Haka.
Ort some historical and significant sites with a local Maori Expert. Some of the sites are well known, and others not so much, but they are all of cultural significance. So if you wish to experience the Maori culture, let them take you to an authentic Marae.
Come and explore a volcanic world of gushing geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and some of the world's entire and amazing silica terraces. Wander through the Hidden Valley and visit the thermal Ruatapu Cave, which extends more than 36m down into volcanic tuff to the 'Waiwhakaata' or 'Pool of Mirrors' hot pool at the bottom. Orakei Korako boasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand. Up to 23 active natural geysers play freely through the area, which is constantly changing. Marvel at the number of boiling springs and the vibrant colours around you, or take a native bushwalk through this untouched geothermal paradise.
The Waikato River, New Zealand's longest river, moves gracefully north from Lake Taupo between banks 100 metres apart. At Huka Falls, the previously placid waters roar and rumble at great speed along the ravine before bursting into space out over Huka Falls to crash into the turbulent pool 11 metres below.
Or: The waters and clays of Wairakei Terraces were highly valued by Maori for their healing powers and therapeutic benefits. Visitors can now bathe in a series of hot thermal pools rich in minerals, uniquely situated below magnificent silica terraces that provide a 'feel back in time' sensation, leaving you warm long after you have gone the water.
Lake Taupo, the largest Lake in this country and the world's largest volcanic crater was created in one giant explosion nearly two thousand years ago. It darkened the sky in Europe and China. Taupo is famous for its fishing and its trophy-sized trout. In addition, there are numerous art and craft galleries to explore, hot thermal pools for relaxing, scenic cruises, white water rafting, kayaking and endless outdoor adventures to tempt you.
Accommodation: Lake Taupo
The Tongariro National Park encircles the volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu and features some of New Zealand's most contrasting landscapes. Tongariro National Park – covering almost 80,000 hectares – was gifted to the nation by Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV in 1887. Over a hundred years later, the park was awarded dual World Heritage Site status. Emerald lakes, alpine meadows and hot springs surround the largest volcanoes on the North Island, offering an environment of stunning diversity.
Drive deeper into farming country to the remote Mokai Valley, where the picturesque Rangitikei River meets the rugged Ruahine Ranges. The location is set at the edges of the crystal-clear waters of the Rangitikei River, amongst the beautiful native flora and fauna, which provides a stunning and picturesque backdrop.
Scenic Raft departing from your lodge, rafting through gentle rapids, crystal clear waters, vertical gorges and unbelievable scenery of the Rangitikei River. Rafting under the Bungy bridge, visit a secret waterfall. Stop for a Picnic lunch and swim. Float quietly through Middle Earth, scenes from the movie Lord of the Rings.
Or: Take a scenic flight through the remote deep canon after you enjoy a traditional BBQ lunch at a remote spot on the river.
Help is always needed to collect the eggs, and feed the chickens, pigs, deer, goats, dogs & puppies, rabbits, possums, sheep, llamas, and turtles. Plus, any extras, especially in spring when bottle-feeding the orphan lambs.
Accommodation: Mokai Valley
Drive through the Kapiti Coast, known for its indulgent gourmet ice cream, chocolates, and cheeses. The Kapiti coast provides a range of stunning beaches, from remote stretches to famous family beaches where you can enjoy picnics, swimming, fishing, or surfing.
Situated at the southern end of the North Island, Wellington was recently named "the coolest little capital in the world" by Lonely Planet. Nestled between a sparkling harbour and rolling green hills, New Zealand's capital city is renowned for its arts, heritage, culture and native beauty. Loved locally for its dining culture, accessible waterfront, city markets, walking and biking trails, and some of the best coffee and craft beer, Wellington's compact central city is home to a vibrant street culture.
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa) is New Zealand's innovative and interactive national museum. Explore this country's great treasures and stories – its unique natural environment, Maori culture, art heritage, and fascinating history. Te Papa is the most visited museum in Oceania, attracting nearly twelve million visitors since opening in 1998. Located right on Wellington's beautiful waterfront, you will need to allow yourself a good couple of hours to make your way around all the exhibitions showcasing New Zealand's diverse art and visual culture.
Accommodation: Wellington City
Take a Ferry to cross the Cook Strait and encounter a glorious world as the ferry enters the Marlborough Sounds. If you hit one of those magic days of great weather, it will be one of the most beautiful panoramas of an introduction to an area one could hope for.
Picton sits snuggled between the mountains and the sea at the head of the beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound. The Marlborough Sounds encompass 1,500 km of coastline, bays, beaches and native forest. It is a place of incredible natural beauty that needs to be seen to be believed. The area is abundant with wildlife, from penguins and rare King Shags to dolphins and fur seals, and offers some of the world's best boating, diving, fishing and hiking. Cruise ships stop at the quaint port town of Picton, known for its museums, galleries and picturesque walking tracks.
You also enter the sun-drenched wine region, New Zealand's pre-eminent grape-growing area. Here you can taste some of the country's best wines and visit wineries world-famous for their Sauvignon Blancs and Chardonnays. Lunch at one of the wineries, enjoy the local delicacies and relax in the convivial atmosphere.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds
Few places on Earth possess the magic of Kaikōura. Many who visit leave transformed. It is a particular part of New Zealand, imbued with powerful natural energy. A place where tectonic plates collide, towering peaks fall to the sea, and ocean currents converge. Such rare combinations lure an abundance of marine wildlife, the most famous being the Giant Sperm Whale. Kaikōura is one of the few places where Sperm Whales can be seen year-round and close to shore. They congregate here because the 3km deep Kaikōura Canyon runs right up against the coast, creating a rare system of sea currents that sustain a vibrant marine food chain.
Or: Dolphin Encounter is focused on giving those who take our tour a natural, not fabricated, experience. Our encounters with the wild dusky dolphins of Kaikoura are entirely honest; we do not feed or entice the dolphins to get them dolphins to interact with the swimmers. Any interaction between man and mammal is simply on the terms of the dolphins. The dusky dolphins inhabit the coastal waters off Kaikoura all year round, making Kaikoura a unique place where wild dolphins can be encountered every day, weather permitting.
Or: Join us for a unique experience of seal swimming with New Zealand Fur Seals in their spectacular marine environment on the beautiful East Coast of the South Island! Snorkelling with wild New Zealand Fur Seals in the shallow waters of the beautiful Kaikoura Peninsula truly is a unique experience. It's one of those simple nature experiences that open your mind to the magnificence of our natural environment and its unique inhabitants. A breathtaking nature activity and was recently listed as one of the world's 'Top 10 Marine Encounters' by Lonely Planet.
Canterbury's fertile soils, warm summers and cold winters produce wines renowned for their intense flavours, richness and complex fruit. Canterbury is a relatively new wine region, with production first established in 1978. However, the area is already making waves for its aromatic excellent-climate wines.
Christchurch city promises an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. As the gateway to the South Island, it's a must on any itinerary.
The most French town in New Zealand, Akaroa will have you entranced with its historic buildings, magnificent harbour and passion for fine food. An accessible drive southeast of Christchurch, Banks Peninsula is the South Island's most interesting volcanic feature.
This is a wbeautifuloption for people who wish to view our penguins returning to the bay to see them in the wild, vconsideringthem naturally and undisturbed. Camouflage gear and binoculars are provided. Please participate in our monitoring program of nesting boxes during the tour as part of our conservation work. This gives you great insight into the life of a penguin and an opportunity to see the birds up close. This option includes pick-up at Akaroa with a spectacular Scenic 4WD van ride to Pohatu with photo stop opportunities. This tour concentrates mmainlyon the Little penguin, but other native and endemic birds may also be seen. e.g. the Yellow-Eyed Penguins who breed at the bay.
Accommodation: Christchurch or Akaroa
Lake Tekapo is about three hours' drive southwest of Christchurch in the Mackenzie Basin. The township faces north across the tremendous turquoise-coloured lake to the mountainous drama of the Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense milky-turquoise colour from the fine rock flour (ground by glaciers) suspended in the water. On the shores of the lake, you'll see the beautiful Church of the Good Shepherd, where the altar window frames a perfect view of the Southern Alps beyond the lake.
The flight of a lifetime, the "Grand Traverse" is a spectacular scenic flight that explores the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks and shows you the region like no other flight. The Grand Traverse is recognised as the premier Aoraki Mount Cook flight-seeing experience and NZ's "must do" scenic flight; this magnificent flight encompasses two World Heritage National Parks and 200 km of New Zealand's most memorable and breathtaking scenery.
Or: A helicopter flight over the Mt Cook National Park and its vast glaciers and snowfields. See the ancient waters of the Tasman Glacier lake before flying the length of the Tasman Glacier, New Zealand's longest glacier. Experience what it feels like to stand in the snow amongst the mountains as you take a spectacular view of New Zealand's highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, during your snow landing. Cross to the West Coast and view the formidable Franz Josef and Fox glaciers before completing your journey with uninterrupted views of the summit ridge of Aoraki/Mt Cook.
Join us on our famous stargazing tour, spend the evening discovering what the southern sky has to offer, and experiencing the thrill of looking deep into the cosmos with our powerful telescopes.
Accommodation: Tekapo or Mt Cook
Mt Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills in preparation for the conquest of Everest. Although it encompasses 23 peaks over 3000 metres, this park is accessible.
Visit New Zealand's Tasman Glacier terminal lake for a fascinating glacial encounter. Cruise the rapidly growing terminal lake taking in spectacular mountain views and scenery. Icebergs of every shape and size periodically tear away from the glacier, allowing you to touch and taste the 300-500-year-old glacial crystals.
As you leave Mt Cook, your trip will take you through some of the most evocative hill countries in New Zealand. You will cross one of New Zealand's best-kept secrets, The "Lindis Pass", as you head into Central Otago. It is a powerful, sunny, dry and brown landscape with weathered ancient mountains, alpine herb fields and fast-flowing rivers.
With stunning alpine surrounds, the Wanaka region and Wanaka town have the same adventurous vibe as Queenstown yet are a little more relaxed. Forty-five kilometres long and covering 193 square kilometres, the crystal clear waters of Lake Wanaka are perfect for jet boaters, sailors and kayakers to explore. Nestled below towering mountains, Wanaka is the most tranquilly set of the South Island lakes. It iss much more than a winter destination. Year-round activities include fishing, hiking, canyoning, climbing and skydiving.
Excavated by massive glaciers more than 10,000 years ago, Lakes Wanaka and Hawea lie side by side. At a sliver of land known as The Neck, which is just 1000 metres wide, the glaciers were once joined. Lake Wanaka is the source of New Zealand's largest river, the Clutha. Lake Hawea feeds into the Hawea River, which joins the Clutha at Albert Town. Ringed by pebbly beaches and magnificent views of the surrounding peaks, both lakes offer a variety of adventures, especially during the long, hot summer months.
Affectionately called ‘Central’ by those that know it well, Central Otago is New Zealand’s most inland region, located in the southern half of the South Island. It’s breathtakingly different, with vast undulating landscapes, rugged snow-capped mountains, clear blue rivers, deep gorges and tussock-clad hills. Central Otago is New Zealand’s fastest-growing wine region and is the most scenic. Take the time to explore these incredible vineyards set in small micro-climates in a landscape dominated by high snow-capped mountains and tussock-clad slopes. Then, travel to Cromwell and Bannockburn, the heart of Pinot Noir country, and depending on your tastes, we will guide you to a selection of boutique wineries.
Arrowtown is a historic living settlement with many stories to tell. Wander the tree-lined streets of restored cottages and explore gold mining sites. One of the most picturesque settlements in New Zealand, Arrowtown sits alongside the gold-bearing Arrow River. The town was established in 1862, during the height of the Otago gold rush. The settlement grew quickly as pioneers constructed cottages, shops, hotels and churches, more than 60 of which can still be seen today. A particular highlight is a Chinese settlement at the edge of the river. Built by Chinese miners in 1868, this restored shelter and building area paint a picture of earlier times.
You skirt around the edges of Lake Wakatipu and get majestic views of Queenstown and the Remarkables Mountains.
Lake Te Anau is the largest of the southern glacial lakes, covering an area of 344 square kilometres. The main body of the lake runs north-south, and three large fiords Rolling hill country characterises the eastern side of the lake; the western side is a magnificent wilderness of forest and mountains - Most of Lake Te Anau is within the boundaries of Fiordland National Park and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.
Accommodation: Te Anau
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with excellent visual cues around every corner. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound was carved by glaciers during the ice ages. As a result, Milford Sound is breathtaking in any weather. The fiord's cliffs rise vertically from the dark waters; mountain peaks scrape the sky, and waterfalls cascade downwards, some as high as 1000 metres. When it rains in Milford Sound, and it often does, those waterfalls multiply with magnificent effect.
Get up close and personal with this pristine environment on your small boat, Encounter Nature Cruise. Reach out and touch sheer rock cliffs and drink pure glacial water straight from the waterfalls, see seals sunning themselves on the rocks, dolphins riding the bow wave or, if you're lucky, spot rare Fiordland crested penguins (in season).
Or: Travel with us to this new world deep in the heart of Fiordland National Park. The beauty and vastness of Doubtful Sound will take your breath away as you experience its deep wilderness. When you discover Doubtful Sound, you will be struck by its silence – broken only by birdsong or the rushing of a distant waterfall. Its beauty and vastness will take your breath away. Your day begins in Manapouri with a cruise across the picturesque Lake Manapouri, followed by a trip across New Zealand's most expensive road over Wilmot Pass, pausing to experience the dense Fiordland rainforest and view Doubtful Sound glistening far below. In Doubtful Sound, you will board our spacious, purpose-built catamaran Patea Explorer for a three-hour cruise through this pristine fiord.
Accommodation: Te Anau
Queenstown is one of New Zealand's top visitor destinations, if you come to the region, you'll understand why. The town sits on the shore of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu amidst dramatic mountain ranges; this stunning location will blow you away. Queenstown is suited to all kinds of adventures – especially throughout summer. Activities like paragliding, Zip lining, 4WD Driving, and kayaking are the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. However, if adventure isn't your thing and you just need time to kick back and relax, plenty of rejuvenating experiences are available. Treat yourself to some boutique shopping, and experience excellent local food and wine.
Just 45 minutes from Queenstown, Glenorchy is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Wakatipu & is the gateway to hiking trails and Middle‑earth magic. This rustic town is a true outdoor enthusiast's paradise. Set againstGlenorchy's surrounds are nothing short of awe-inspiring, set background of native beech forest and towering mountain ranges, Glenorchy's spectacular landscapes have become a prime locAs a result, ation for film scouts, depicting many scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy and featuring in the Narnia movies. Twenty kilometres away from Glenorchy, as bucolic farmland gives way to beech forests, lies Paradise.
Accommodation: Queenstown or Glenorchy
A driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the airport.