Over 15 unforgettable days, you’ll take in the best of the North and South Islands ex Auckland on foot, by luxury minibus, on a small boat, and even on a bicycle. The itinerary is designed for freedom and flexibility, so you can do as little or as much as you wish.
Small-Group Tour with max 12 people with a professional local tour guide
Private guided tour 14 nights
Category: Active, Nature
Location: South Island
Departing/Finishing: Auckland to Queenstown
Accommodation: 4* or 5* quality hotels
Next Departure: 17th of October, 7th of November, 5th of December, 23rd of January, 20th of February, 20th of March
BOOK NOW - PAY LATER
Price inclusive of GST:
NZ$6390 (around 5990AUS$) per person in double/twin share
NZ$8090 (around 7490AUS$) per person in a single room
We will deduct the cost of hotels for people living in Auckland (or other cities of origin) or start your journey with us from day 3!
Terms & Conditions
Our hand-selected hotels for this journey
Auckland - Sudima Auckland
Rotorua - Pullman Hotel
Taupo - Hilton Taupo
Wellington - Bolton Hotel
Christchurch - Sudima City Center
Punakaiki - Punakaiki Resort
Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson Motel
Wanaka - Edgewater Resort
Te Anau - Lakeside Motel
Inclusions and Highlights:
Day 1: Arrival Auckland - Meet and Greeting the evening - 2 nights (dinner included)
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. Britomart (Afternoon explore by yourself) Britomart is a vibrant shopping, entertainment, and business precinct in the heart of downtown Auckland. 6 pm, Meet and Greet at Hotel followed by dinner at East Restaurant. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner. East offers delicious modern-Asian flavors, plant-focused lunch, and dinner. Their chefs take inspiration from the near and far East to present an innovative and flavourful vegetarian menu of bites, small plates, and larger dishes, all designed to share.
Day 2: Auckland - Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway - Matakana - Devonport
Blow the cobwebs away on the Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway. (9km return 2-3hrs) The rugged beauty of New Zealand’s coast unfolds with panoramic views offering spectacular photo opportunities along this walk from the shoreline to the clifftops. Journey over beaches and cliff tops, through farmlands and native forest, to discover views that reach all the way down to the Ocean. At the highpoint of the ridgeline, breathtaking panoramic views stretch from Bream Head all the way down to the Hauraki Gulf and the offshore islands. Head to Matakana, only an hour north of Auckland city and close to many stunning east coast beaches. Check out Devonport and discover colonial cottages, stately waterfront homes, and World War II defenses that run deep into a volcanic cone.
Day 3: Auckland - Waikato – Rotorua - 1 night (dinner included)
Departing Auckland at 9 am traveling through one of the world's richest agricultural and pastoral areas, Waikato is home to New Zealand’s famous dairy and thoroughbred horse racing industries. It is based on many agri-businesses research institutes. Stop and enjoy the Wairere Falls Track (5km return 3-4hr return). Just 10 minutes drive from Matamata, the Wairere Falls is the highest waterfall on the North Island and a popular walking track in the Waikato. Visit the Te Puia Arts and Crafts Centre, and when darkness falls, the true love story of Rotorua’s geothermal wonderland comes to life. Discover one of New Zealand’s most magnificent geothermal wonderlands featuring dramatic geysers, bubbling mud, and beautiful native bush. Until now, the magic hidden within Te Puia after hours has remained a secret that only Mother Nature has truly been exposed to. For the first time, the geothermal valley is revealed under night skies, providing a multi-sensory experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. Hear the stories of the past and feel the beauty of Pōhutu in an interactive journey guided by light.
Day 4: Rotorua - Waimangu Volcanic Valley - Taupo - 2 nights (dinner included)
Walk Waimangu Valley. Experience spectacular volcanic craters, enormous hot water springs, beautiful geothermal features, rare and unusual plant life, brilliantly colored microbiology, and a wide array of birds. We immerse visitors in the stories of the Mt Tarawera volcanic eruption, its people, and the resulting dramatic landscape changes that created the world’s youngest geothermal valley. Beautiful Lake Taupo is actually a huge volcano with a fiery history. Lake Taupo is a fantastic region for year-round mountain biking, with the recent completion of the Great Lake Trail. Bike with us to the Great Lake Walkway, or Lion’s Walk, which is a 10km, Grade 1 paved ride that travels along the shoreline of Lake Taupo. The trail offers majestic views across the lake to the snow-capped peaks of Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, and Mt Ruapehu.
Day 5: Taupo - Day trip to Tongariro National Park NZ
We visit The Tongariro National Park, which encircles the volcanoes of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu and features some of New Zealand's most contrasting landscapes. The park's most celebrated activity is the 'Tongariro Alpine Crossing,' a one-day trek that 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. We drop by Mangatepopo to Soda Springs. (6km 2hr return) You don't have to hike the full length of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to experience some of its splendor. A good alternative is to walk the first section of
Day 6: Taupo - Kapiti Coast – Wellington - 1 night (dinner included)
We 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 of the coast to popular family beaches where you can enjoy picnics, swimming, fishing, or surfing. Finally, we arrive in Wellington 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 harbor and rolling green hills, New Zealand's capital city is renowned for its arts, heritage, culture, and native beauty. Enjoy a walking tour of Hannah's Laneway, home to the Fix & Fogg shop window, which offers peanut butter tastings and gourmet toast. The Leeds Street Bakery in Hannah's Laneway is celebrated artisan producers in this culinary hotspot.
Day 7: Ferry Wellington to Picton - Kaikoura – Christchurch - 1 night (dinner included)
Sail between Wellington and Picton across the mighty Cook Strait and through the spectacular Marlborough Sounds on one of the most scenic ferry journeys in the world. We travel through the wine region along the East Coast of New Zealand. We pass over the arid rolling foothills of South Marlborough, and we drop down to the dramatic Pacific coastline to Kaikoura. Kaikoura's environment is spectacular; the village is caught between the rugged Seaward Kaikoura Ranges and the Pacific Ocean. We will take the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway (200m – 11.7km 5min – 3hrs) along the Esplanade, onto Fyffe Quay, until you get to Point Kean car park/viewpoint. You will be rewarded with a seal colony. Onto Christchurch with an eclectic mix of historic elegance and contemporary culture. As the gateway to the South Island, it's a must on any itinerary.
Day 8: Christchurch - Arthur's Pass - West Coast - 1 night (dinner included)
We leave Christchurch and travel via the Canterbury Plains, like a patchwork quilt made with every shade of green, positioned serenely between the mountains and the sea. The Castle Hill Walk (1.4km one way, 20 mins) with its grand limestone rock battlements of Kura Tawhiti led early European travelers to name this unique area Castle Hill. The area is rich in Maori history. The track loops its way around the magnificent limestone rock formations. Still, the joy in this area is heading off the track and exploring at your own pace onto Arthur's Pass, characterized by wide, shingle-filled riverbeds and vast beech forests. The western side of the park, where wet weather is more common than dry, has deeply gorged rivers flowing through dense rainforests. We stretch our legs again with the Devils Punchbowl Walk (2km return 1hr return) as you feel the full force and sound of fresh mountain water falling 131 m down one of New Zealand’s most stunning waterfalls. Finally, we view the famous Punakaiki's Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, an amazing feature of the Great Coast Road on the West Coast.
Day 9: West Coast - Hokitika Gorge - Glacier Area - 2 nights (dinner included)
Travel to Underworld Adventures and take a short interpretative train ride in open carriages through the primeval rain forest. You will visit the Hall of Refugees to view its breathtaking array of calcite formations before emerging back to daylight to the overwhelmingly awe-inspiring Ananui entrance series- a prehistoric wonderland of outstanding beauty. Leaving this behind, you will get really close to amazing galaxies of glow worms at the active level. A journey that takes you into one of the few cave systems you can see in its natural untamed wilderness state. You will visit the historic gold mining town of Hokitika. Hokitika Gorge Tour takes you through the lush dairy farmlands of the Kokatahi / Kowhitirangi Valley with majestic views of the Southern Alps, native rainforest to view blue-green waters of rock sided Hokitika Gorge. Take a leisurely and scenic drive to the famous glacier region. The rugged West Coast is hemmed between the Tasman Sea and the imposing Southern Alps, making spectacular contrasts in the surrounding scenery.
Day 10: Fox Glacier - Lake Matheson - Franz Josef Glacier
At Lake Matheson, we take an easy 1.5 hrs trek 2.6km loop. Located near Fox Glacier, nature has combined exactly the right ingredients to create truly stunning reflections of New Zealand's highest peaks - Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman. The hospitable town of Franz Josef serves the glacier of the same name. Stay here while you explore this spectacular World Heritage Area. We take a guided Eco tour of the Franz Josef valley. Wander past glacier rivers and streams and through beautiful podocarp forest; discover hidden natural treasures such as native snails, wild native mushrooms, and dozens of species of native orchids; listen to native bird song and waterfalls; see if you can spot a Chamois or a Tahr on the huge snow-capped mountains above while drinking a cup of tea and talking one-on-one with your guide. Mountain Helicopters (optional and extra charge) This is a premier high alpine helicopter flight around Westland National Park. The 40-minute flight takes you over both the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, all the way around Mount Cook & Mount Tasman, as well as including a 10-minute snow landing (weather permitting).
Day 11: Fox Glacier - Haast - Wanaka - 2 nights (dinner included)
We travel on a spectacular and scenic road that links Haast and Wanaka. On the way, we enjoy one of the Kiwi’s favorite tours on the West Coast, taking a Waiatoto jet boat wilderness safari up a remote backcountry river into UNESCO South West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Visit the Blue Pools (3km return 1hr return walk) and stroll through beech/where forest to a swing bridge crossing the Makarora River. Follow the boardwalk to a viewing platform over the Blue Pools, then cross the Blue Pools bridge for great views up the river gorge. Along the way, look out for large trout feeding in the pools and listen for the threatened yellowhead/mohua, which can often be heard in the canopy. Finally, arrive in Wanaka (explore by yourself) 45 kilometers long and covering 193 square kilometers; 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 tranquil setting of the South Island lakes.
Day 12: Wanaka -Day trip to Rob Roy Glacier/Mt Aspiring National Park
Today you hike to the majestic Rob Roy Glacier and picnic by a cascading waterfall with native alpine parrots for the company while listening to the cracks of the hanging glacier high overhead. The track is an ideal entry point to Mt Aspiring National Park - an area of spectacular alpine scenery, snowfields, glaciers, sheer rock cliffs, and waterfalls. (10km return 3-4hr walk) At Mt Aspiring National Park NZ, Stretch your legs and feed your soul in this beautiful wilderness of native forests, towering mountains, and long river valleys. Or:
Eco Wanaka Adventure (optional and extra charge) Boat cruise to the remote and magical Mou Waho Island nature reserve, predator-free and home to the rare flightless Buff Weka (extinct on the mainland since 1920). A one-hour return-guided bush walk is included, which takes you up to reveal the island’s secret, a lake right on top of the island! Unique and very photogenic
Day 13: Wanaka - Central Otago - Te Anau - 2 nights (dinner included)
In historic Clyde, you can make yourself comfortable in a cafe or hire a mountain bike to explore the surrounding hills. This historic town is located at the foot of a river gorge and is surrounded by rounded hills of schist punctuated with large craggy standing rocks. Schist is gold-bearing rock, and substantial strikes in the rivers near Clyde sparked a gold rush in the late 1800s. Now for a Biking adventure on the Otago Rail Trail. The Otago Central Rail Trail cuts through the Raggedy Range that separates the Manuherikia and Ida Valleys. Ride with us on the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, which is one of New Zealand’s most visually spectacular day rides. Stretching between Alexandra and Lake Roxburgh Hydro Dam the trail follows the Clutha Mata-au River past eroded bluffs and old gold workings set amidst willows, native shrubs, and fragrant thyme. Finally, we arrive at Te Anau, the perfect town to base ourselves on for a visit to Milford Sound. Apart from hiking, popular local activities include scenic flights, lake cruising, fishing, and kayaking.
Day 14: Te Anau - Day Trip into Milford Sound
Situated on the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with amazing 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. Today we embark on a Milford Track Guided Day Walk and boat cruise (11km hike, 3,5 hrs). After brief introductions at the Milford Sound terminal, we begin with a short boat ride across Milford Sound’s Deep-Water Basin to Sandfly Point, adeptly named as you will see! Enjoy Milford Sound’s awe-inspiring scenery from the comfort of a small boat cruise as you sit back and relax. Cruise the length of the fiord and experience the beauty of Milford Sound in all its grandeur. Keep an eye out for the seals basking in the sun or maybe even a pod of dolphins visiting! There is so much to see, and it is a perfect way to round off your day. Or (minimum numbers apply) Lake Marian is an extraordinary, little-known slice of paradise located off Milford Road. Cradled by the Alisa Mountains, the lake sits in a ‘hanging’ valley once carved by glaciers and is framed by snow-capped mountains. From its shores, you can often hear the roar of avalanches in the distance. Lake Marian is the remote, untamed New Zealand you came to see, and is reached by a moderate-grade track via a 4-5 hour return hike.
Day 15: Te Anau – Queenstown
Today we travel to Queenstown, where the tour ends. Nestled between the Eyre Mountains and the Hector Range, Kingston is on the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu and the border of Otago and Southland. The road, which winds between Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range, offers spectacular views, and there are some good photo stops along the way - the best being at the top of Devil’s Staircase. Queenstown sits on the shore of crystal-clear Lake Wakatipu among dramatic alpine ranges; it’s rumored that gold prospectors - captivated by the majestic beauty of the surrounding mountains and rivers - gave this now cosmopolitan town its name.
Let us know if you like us to add some nights in Queenstown?