This tour suits people of a wide range of fitness levels and outdoor experience, particularly if you enjoy hiking and various other activities.
On the North Island, explore a marine reserve along white sandy beaches, hike in unique volcanic terrain and geothermal areas and experience Maori culture. On the South Island, you explore peaceful and inspiring scenery that has remained largely untouched for thousands of years. From the snow-capped mountains of the majestic Southern Alps, ancient native rainforest, pristine rivers and lakes to the remote dunes, reef and surf of the rugged West Coast.
Location: North and South Island
Departing/Finishing: Auckland – Queenstown (or itinerary can be reversed)
Accommodation: 4* or 5* quality hotels, Boutique B&B’s, Serviced Luxury 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. Discover the diverse range of cafes and restaurants offering cuisine from around the globe. Visit the Seafood market in the bustling Wynyard Quarter and wander around the boutique market and deli. Finally, soak up diverse shopping experiences and a delicious café culture on the ultimate shopping day in the city – Auckland style.
Or: Dominating the Hauraki Gulf with its conical peak, Rangitoto Island is an Auckland icon. It is a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland. It is the youngest and most prominent of Auckland's volcanic cones. This popular summit walk begins at Rangitoto Wharf and climbs through lava fields and the world's largest pohutukawa forest to the island's peak at 259m above sea level. At the summit, you will be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of New Zealand's largest city and the surrounding Hauraki Gulf islands.
Accommodation: Auckland City
A historical town situated 1.5 hours' drive from Auckland, Thames is located between the Firth of Thames and the majestic ranges of The Coromandel. A 'crafty' town, Thames is proud of its heritage and is connected to the natural environment with an expansive bush wilderness as its backdrop.
Visit the Waiau Kauri Grove; this 2.5km round trip should take you around 2.5 hours and takes you up through regenerating forest to one of the few remaining stands of mature kauri. Mature kauri is a rare sight on the peninsula these days after extensive logging cleared all but the most inaccessible valleys in the early 1800s. Pack waterproof shoes or crocs, as there are several small stream crossings.
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. Also, don't miss the spectacular Cathedral Cove, a protected marine reserve jewel.
From Whitianga, you can enjoy Mercury Bay's beaches, water sports and boat excursions. Expect great seafood and enjoy a forest walk or two. If you’re exploring The Coromandel, you’ll soon come to Whitianga – the main town on Mercury Bay. Whitianga was a timber port when native forests were harvested on the peninsula in the 1800s and early 1900s. Ships from Europe sailed into Whitianga's deep-water harbour to load up with valuable kauri.
Relax and play on the fabulous Hahei beach, visit the world-famous Cathedral Cove, explore the marine wildlife in the Hahei Marine Reserve or dig your spa during low tide at Hot Water Beach.
Rated by New Zealand's leading tour companies as one of the best sea kayaking trips in the country, the "Cathedral Cove Tour" 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!
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.
Come and explore a volcanic world of gushing geysers, hot springs, bubbling mud pools and some of the next world's ensive and incredible 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. Then, just before the Huka Falls, it enters a shallow ravine of hard volcanic rock. The effect is nature's large-scale equivalent of a fire hose feeding into an ideal nozzle. 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.
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. All three volcanoes are very much alive, with Mount Tongariro erupting as recently as August 2012. But this doesn't deter people from skiing down the slopes and hiking to the craters – a monitoring system provides early warning of eruptions. The park's most celebrated activity is the 'Tongariro Alpine Crossing', a one-day trek traverses the otherworldly terrain along the slopes of all three mountains. Steaming craters, old lava flows and thermal lakes make the walk an unforgettable experience.
Or: Take a road less travelled with one of our Maori Experts and explore remote treks along the native bush in the National Park. Some of the sites are well known, and others not so much, but they are all of cultural significance.
Accommodation: Lake Taupo
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. The wineries of Blenheim are within a short drive of Picton; be sure to try the Sauvignon Blanc, for which this region is famous.
Marlborough is also known for its green-lipped mussels. Enjoy the natural beauty of the Marlborough Sounds with the indulgent Greenshell Mussel Cruise, featuring freshly steamed mussels paired with a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for the ultimate wine/food match. Relax and unwind while you cruise the tranquil Pelorus Sound and Kenepuru Sound aboard our luxury launch MV Spirit on this half-day exclusive tour, departing Havelock. Learn about local history, visit a mussel farm and take in the stunning scenery.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds
With gorgeous coastal views, the stunning Marlborough Sounds, and native bush – the Queen Charlotte Track is utterly unique. Stretching between Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds lies the Queen Charlotte Track, a unique partnership between the Department of Conservation (DOC), Marlborough District Council and private landowners.
Visitors to the Queen Charlotte Track, renowned for its stunning views and contrasting landscape, historical landmarks and an incredible variety of native bush and wildlife, will find this a unique and spectacular trip through the Marlborough Sounds as it passes through lush coastal forest, historic bays, and along skyline ridges with unsurpassed views of Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds. This track is as much about a walking/biking holiday as it is an environmental, cultural and lifestyle experience.
Or: The Marlborough Sounds offer some of the best outdoor settings in New Zealand, whether for hiking, biking or kayaking – away from the crowds with beauty and wildlife in abundance. With 1500km of coastline to explore - here, a lush sub-tropical rainforest in its regenerating state flourishes close to the shoreline within arm’s reach when paddling with us. And with over 1500km of shoreline to explore, there is plenty to do.
Accommodation: Marlborough Sounds
Lying at the top of the South Island, the region of Marlborough is New Zealand's largest producer of wine, in particular, Sauvignon Blanc. This region has many outstanding wineries, with the excellent Cloudy Bay Vineyard drawing in discerning wine buffs worldwide.
Spend the day biking from winery to winery while soaking up unbeatable views and world-class wines. You will visit 5+ boutique wineries, hand selected by your knowledgeable and friendly guide. Between short stints in the saddle, you'll taste some of the region's best wines, including our world-class Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
We'll stop for a relaxed lunch at a local winery, and you'll have the chance to taste a wide range of regional varietals and vintages.
Nelson is a lifestyle; that's the best way to describe it. Situated at the top northwest of the South Island, it is the sunniest region in New Zealand. Nelson's diverse geography captures everything from the long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains. Perhaps it's the sun or the location, but Nelson has long been a magnet for creative people. More than 350 working artists and craftspeople live in the area, traditional, contemporary and Māori. Visit their studios and find a unique piece to take home with you. Sit in the sun, sip a wine from one of the local vineyards, and dine on the famous Nelson Bay scallops.
Accommodation: Nelson or Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman National Park is New Zealand's smallest national park- but it's perfectly formed for relaxation and adventure. A coastal paradise that you can walk through or explore by cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak, visitors love the way the Abel Tasman National Park mixes physical exertion with beach life. Bursts of hiking or paddling are punctuated by sunbathing, swimming and sedate snorkelling. Inviting sandy beaches fill the spaces between trees and the tide line. Crystal-clear streams tumble down mossy valleys to join the ocean. Granite and marble formations fringe the headlands, cloaked in regenerating native forests. Native wildlife is an essential part of the scenery. Tui and bellbird song fills the forest; shags (cormorants), gannets and little blue penguins dive for dinner; fur seals lounge on the rocks around the edge of Tonga Island.
Explore the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand with Abel Tasman Eco Tours and boat charters. Join a tour showcasing the wonders of the Abel Tasman National Park coastline. Then, spend a whole day cruising in your private charter boat, visiting numerous beaches, inlets, islands and forests. Enjoy natural discovery, bird watching, sightseeing, photography, relaxing, and learning with an experienced guide. Explore the coastal wonders and hidden waterways where marine, freshwater and bird life can be seen in their natural habitats. Your expert guides will enthral you with the fantastic conservation story unfolding around you in the Abel Tasman National Park, the different wildlife that lives here and the dedicated people that work to help them thrive.
Accommodation: Nelson or Abel Tasman
The Nelson Lakes National Park is an enchanting alpine landscape of rugged peaks, forests and stunning glacial lakes. A compact area of mountain ranges separated by forested valleys, the Nelson Lakes National Park is home to the beginning of the awe-inspiring Southern Alps.
The West Coast – New Zealand’s most extended region – is a narrow 600km stretch of wild coastline, mountain peaks, glaciers, clear lakes and sparsely populated towns. This immense, untamed natural environment is New Zealand’s most protected region.
A passive eco-tour through the enormous Nile River Caves in the Paparoa National Park. Take the Nile River Rainforest Train to travel through the ancient rainforest close to the vast Nile River Caves. You will explore an ancient wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites in the significant dry upper levels and become entranced while under the galaxies of glowworms in the awe-inspiring Ananui entrance series.
Accommodation: West Coast
Stop at nearby Punakaiki, the Jewel of the West Coast and world-renowned for its pancake rock formations and blowholes. Then, walk along some of the stunning and remote beach treks through a dense rainforest with Nikau Palms and giant ferns.
You will visit the historic gold mining town of Hokitika. Historic Hokitika is a place to appreciate the fascinating history of the west coast. Hear about the shipwrecks, gold miners and pounamu hunters. Just 33 km inland from Hokitika is the beautiful Hokitika Gorge – a glacial river with gorgeous turquoise-blue-green water and fantastic rock formations forming the gorge's steep sides.
The rugged West Coast is hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing Southern Alps, making for spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery. The two glaciers are located only 25 km from each other and are unique worldwide as they nearly reach the ocean. The hospitable town of Franz Josef serves the glacier of the same name. Franz Josef Glacier was first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast, who named it after the Austrian emperor. The glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name, and a 20-minute walk will take you to its terminal face. Franz Josef Glacier is 12km long and fed by a massive 20 square km snowfield at the top of the Southern Alps. It features ice pinnacles as high as multi-story buildings, deep crevasses and stunning, pristine blue ice.
Or: Heli hike, it’s all on the show, and the most dynamic glacier in New Zealand is accessible to you via one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world. First, witness the majesty of the beautiful ice formation from the air as your helicopter takes to the skies above the glacier. Then descend onto the glacier itself and set foot on the ice. Your Heli hike guide will then lead you through some of the most stunning ice formations, immersing you in the world of the Franz Josef Glacier.
Accommodation: Glacier area
A spectacular and scenic road links Haast and Wanaka. It reaches beyond wind-whipped Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, through golden tussock-covered hills, to wind among steep mountains cloaked in lush rainforest and crosses tumbling rivers.
New Zealand's only Jet Boat tour to take you from the Ocean to the Alps – within a UNESCO World Heritage Area. Travel to the top of the river and listen to us impart our intricate knowledge of the area. Learn about the introduced animals, visit the Kiwi sanctuary and learn about the Kiwi breeding program. Then, pass through the Alpine Fault line and watch the theatrical scenery unfold before you.
Or: Siberia Valley. Four hours of unique New Zealand wilderness adventure in Mt Aspiring World Heritage National Park. Real NZ Wilderness. "Fly, Walk, Jetboat". Fly amongst Alpine valleys over beautiful mountain lakes and waterfalls and past spectacular glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Land in a genuinely remote backcountry valley. Walk across open tussock flats. Amongst vibrant native rainforest, surrounded by incredible mountain vistas. Jet Boat through crystal clear glacial mountain river. The ultimate in shallow river jetboating amongst native bush, pristine river valleys and ice-capped mountains.
As you exit Mt Aspiring National Park, you will travel through what is known as "The Neck", a formation of land that separates two of our great South Island lakes, Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka. Nestled below towering mountains, Wanaka is the most tranquilly set of the South Island lakes. 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.
Accommodation: Lake Wanaka
Central Otago is New Zealand's fastest-growing wine region and the most scenic region. 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.
The journey takes you past the Eastern shores of Lake Wakatipu to Fiordland National Park. The extraordinary scenic beauty has earned this region a reputation as a significant sightseeing and walking destination and a 'must-see' for anyone travelling to New Zealand.
Nestled on the edge of a lake, Te Anau is the perfect town to base yourself on to visit Milford Sound. The picturesque township is the main visitor base for the glacier-carved wilderness that is Fiordland National Park.
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 impressive 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. Boat cruises are an excellent way to experience the Sound. To learn more about the local marine life, visit the underwater observatory at Harrison Cove and marvel at the black coral, 11-legged sea stars and delicate anemones.
Get up close and personal with this pristine environment on our 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: Want to get amongst it?! We're sure you'll agree with the Lonely Planet and us that sea kayaking is the best way to discover Milford Sound truly. So get set to feel the spray kiss your face as waterfalls tumble from hundreds of metres above you; marvel at the ancient rainforest clinging to the cliffs of the cove alongside you; and look out for the New Zealand Fur Seals, Fiordland Crested Penguins, famous Blue Penguins and even Bottlenose Dolphins. Navigate your kayak through shimmering Milford Sound water which looks the same today as it did a thousand years ago, and enjoy one of the top Milford Sound Activities you can do today.
Or: See Fiordland on foot, join a guided walk to get real insight and safely learn more about the spectacular natural surroundings in this famous World Heritage Area. Experience the raw beauty first-hand; step out into the forest and mountains with a local, knowledgeable guide to share in this awe-inspiring world. Our Milford Track guided day hike options begin the trail from the Milford Sound end at Sandfly Point. Easy-going and enjoyable, it's a fantastic way to get a feel for the beauty of the track.
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 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.
Or: The only thing better than the drive to Glenorchy is the road to Paradise. How much scenery can your camera cope with? The 45-minute journey from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of the most scenic drives you'll ever experience. The road follows the edge of Lake Wakatipu, providing spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, which rise abruptly from the lake's shores. When you arrive in Glenorchy, you'll quickly realise that this settlement has little in common with Queenstown. It's small and folksy, with not a designer shop in sight. Sitting at the edge of the Dart River delta, the town is dwarfed by the most extraordinary alpine scenery.
A driver will collect you from your accommodation and transfer you to the airport.