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Ultimate New Zealand

Ultimate New Zealand

From $ 10,495 AUD

Description

See all the natural and cultural highlights of New Zealand on this 24-day journey through the North and South Islands. First, you’ll explore the sub-tropical islands, expansive coastlines and dense forests of Northland. Soak up the coastal beauty of Tutukaka – home to one of the world’s most gorgeous coastlines (as voted by National Geographic Traveller) – then hit the Bay of Islands for a full-day cruise through the scenic Poor Knights Islands. Go scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking in your free time before soaking up some of the local cultural history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Visit hot water beach for a swim in Coromandel, see the geothermal springs of Rotorua and go wildlife spotting in Wellington. Ram up the energy in the South Island’s ‘adventure capital of the world’ (Queenstown), then chill out in laidback Wanaka. See the awe-inspiring Franz Josef Glacier, then cross the Southern Alps on a world-famous train journey. Between old forest landscapes, mountain-scapes and glacial hikes, you’ll soon fall head over heels for New Zealand’s natural beauty.

Trip Name
Ultimate New Zealand
Last Updated
2024-04-14
Days
24
Capacity
16
Highlights
  • Cruise through the scenic Poor Knights Islands on a full-day adventure on the water to see some of the north island’s natural beauty. This area is also a Marine Reserve with volcanic origins over 11 million years old, creating some pretty epic biodiversity.
  • Discover the diversity of Rotorua, from unbelievable geothermal activity to rich Maori culture. Visit a Maori village for a hangi dinner and traditional haka performance.
  • Admire the out-of-this-world landscapes of Tongariro National Park, from emerald green lakes to soaring volcanic peaks. If you’re up for the challenge, tackle the famous Tongariro Crossing.
  • Live it up in the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. Whether you fancy bungy jumping, jet boating, horseback riding or wine tasting, there’s something here to entice everyone.
  • Visit a local gallery in Franz Josef and carve a pendant out of pounamu while learning about the precious stone’s significance to Maori culture.

Itinerary

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world, and there are plenty of opportunities for you to customise your itinerary with as much adrenaline as you like. However please note that a lot of activities you may be interested in can sell out well in advance of your arrival. To ensure you have the opportunity to participate in your chosen activities and don’t miss out due to unavailability, we have made a selection of those activities available to be pre-booked via your booking agent. Please see below a list of activities you can pre-book. • Bay of Islands - Island Hopper Day Cruise (Oct to May only) • Bay of Islands - Lagoon Bay Cruise (Oct to May) • Bay of Islands - Discover Scuba Diving • Coromandel Peninsula - Cathedral Cove Kayaking • Raglan - Kayaking Tour • Waitomo - Footwhistle Glowworm Cave Tour • Rotorua - Hobbiton Movie Set Tour • Rotorua - Mount Tarawera Crater Hike • Rotorua - Forest Ziplining Canopy Tour (Original 3 hours) • Rotorua - Forest Ziplining Canopy Tour (Ultimate 3.5 hours) • Rotorua - Whitewater Rafting • Rotorua - Guided Glowworm Kayak, Hot Pools & Dinner • Tongariro National Park - Tongariro Crossing (Full Day Guided Hike) • Tongariro National Park - Tongariro Crossing (Half Day Guided Hike) • Wellington - Kapiti Island Eco Experience • Wellington - Zealandia Eco-Sanctuary • Wellington - Weta Workshop Cave Tour • Kaikoura - Dolphin Watching Cruise • Kaikoura - Whale Watching Cruise • Queenstown - Shotover River Jet Boat Ride • Queenstown - Walter Peak Lake Cruise with Gourmet Dinner • Queenstown - Kawarau Bridge Bungy • Queenstown - Lord of the Rings 4WD Tour • Queenstown - Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise • Queenstown - Milford Sound Coach-Cruise-Coach Day Trip • Queenstown - Milford Sound Fly-Cruise-Fly Day Trip • Queenstown - Milford Sound Coach-Cruise-Fly Day Trip • Wanaka - Rob Roy Glacier Guided Walk • Wanaka - Waterfall Climbing • Wanaka - Mou Waho Island Cruise • Wanaka - Mou Waho Island Cruise & Guided Nature Walk • Franz Josef - Glacier Lake Kayaking • Franz Josef - Glacier Heli Hike • Franz Josef - Heli Experience with Snow Landing Not all activities may be available on your particular departure, and the list of activities is not exhaustive, as there are other optional activities that can be booked either via your leader or the relevant supplier on the ground. Please consult with your booking agent should you have any questions or require any further information on any of these activities. Prices are approximate and subject to change without notice, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway.

Day 1 - Auckland
Welcome to New Zealand! Your adventure begins in Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland) with a welcome meeting tonight at 6 pm. If you arrive early, why not check out the Auckland Sky Tower – the tallest building in New Zealand. If the mood strikes, you can also jump off the Sky Tower (with a harness, of course). Maybe visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum or walk around the CBD at your own pace and pick one of the excellent spots for lunch. Tonight, you’ll head out for a welcome dinner with your group to get to know each other.
Day 2 - Auckland / Tutukaka
Start your day with a hearty breakfast at a local café for a dose of warm Kiwi hospitality. Then, take a scenic drive to Tutukaka, stopping at Whangarei Falls along the way. This 26 m-high waterfall is a great spot for a photo! Continue along the coastline to Matapouri Beach. With the soft sand under your feet. You can take some time to enjoy the soothing sounds of the ocean. This is a perfect spot to relax, unwind and appreciate the surroundings. Arrive in Tutukaka tonight – a coastal city known for its scenic views, world-famous beaches and coastline (rated one of the top three coastlines in the world by National Geographic Traveller!).
Day 3 - Tutukaka / Paihia
After breakfast this morning, you’ll set sail on a full-day cruise to the Poor Knights Islands. As a total Marine Reserve, the islands boast 11-million-year-old volcanic origins, featuring some pretty memorable drop-offs, walls, caves, arches and tunnels both above and below the water. The rich biodiversity includes plant, animal and fish life unique to the area, so if you’re a wildlife buff this might be the highlight of your trip! Your day will be filled with sightseeing, kayaking, exploring caves, snorkelling, swimming, spotting sea mammals and learning the history of the islands. The highlight of the day is a visit to the world's largest sea cave – Rikoriko Cave, only accessible by boat. Finish your day with a scenic drive to Paihia, where you’ll spend the night.
Day 4 - Paihia
Today is a free day in Paihia – this coastal town is known as the gateway to the popular dive sites and sandy beaches of the bay. With more than 140 sub-tropical islands dotted around the coastline, there’s plenty to see and do here! Maybe hit the water and explore the many coves and beaches or take a cruise through the natural rock archway. Explore the ocean floor on a scuba mission or maybe set sail in search of local dolphins. If you’re looking for a hit of adrenaline, why not consider going skydiving? Your leader will have the inside scoop on optional activities and the best places to refuel for lunch and dinner.
Day 5 - Paihia / Auckland
Today, you’ll discover the Bay of Islands’ important role in New Zealand’s history with a trip to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Get an insight into Māori culture and see the 35 m carved waka (a ceremonial war canoe) – the biggest in the world! After lunch, say goodbye to the bay and start the journey back to Auckland via Northland’s east coast. Make sure to grab a window seat if you can, as the scenic beaches and coastal walks along the way pass you by. Arrive back in Auckland in the late afternoon and check into your hotel. You’ll have another welcome meeting tonight at 6 pm, then the rest of the evening is yours to do as you please – you might like to take a dip into Auckland’s nightlife.
Day 6 - Coromandel Peninsula
Meet your leader and the rest of your group this morning, then leave the bright lights of Auckland City in the rear-view mirror as you jump in your vehicle and drive to the Coromandel Peninsula – the journey is a highlight in itself, following the extraordinary coastline and watching clear blue water stream past the window. A land of white sand beaches and lush rainforests, the Coromandel Peninsula feels a world away from where your journey began. Make a stop at Hot Water Beach, named after the famous warm waters found beneath its golden sand. If the tide allows, dig a hole on the beach and enjoy your own natural hot tub – absolute bliss! After a visit to the famous cathedral Cove arrive at your accommodation in the afternoon.
Day 7 - Raglan
Hit the road and make a scenic drive to Raglan, passing tree-clad hills and dramatic valleys. The journey will be broken up with photo-worthy stops, including a visit to the magical 55-metre cascade of the Bridal Veil Falls. Widely considered to be New Zealand’s premier surf spot, Raglan is the ideal place to catch some waves, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. If surfing isn’t your thing, the chilled-out town offers a wealth of awesome activities. Check out creative local cafes, shops and galleries, stretch out on the beach and enjoy the view or head out on a hiking trail to get a better look at the landscape. Tonight is set to be one to remember – get on the water for a sunset boat cruise around Raglan Harbour, and tuck into a tasty fish and chips feast while you’re at it – a true Kiwi experience!
Day 8 - Waitomo / Rotorua
This morning’s adventure takes you underground during an optional visit to the Waitomo Caves, a subterranean system of caverns and passageways illuminated by thousands of ethereal glow worms. You may like to join a walking tour to hear the story of the caves’ history, geology and connection to Maori mythology. If you’d rather stay on the surface, the Ruakuri Forest walk is a must, cutting through dense rainforest and taking in views of verdant gorges and limestone arches. Tucked into the rolling green hills of Matamata you’ll find Hobbiton, the set where part of the Lord of the Rings films were shot. On a fully guided tour of the set you will see Hobbit Holes, the Mill, and even enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn. Continue your journey towards Rotorua, known for its Maori heritage, hotbed of geothermal activity and distinctive sulphur smell (you’ll get used to it!). To get your first look at Rotorua’s impressive scenery, take a treetop walk through an ancient redwood forest over a network of suspension bridges, reaching 12 metres at the highest point.
Day 9 - Rotorua
Spend the day discovering the natural and cultural wonders of Rotorua – this unique destination is really like nowhere else in the world. The geothermal activity in the area is second to none – simmering mud pools, dramatic geysers and fluorescent lakes must be seen to be believed. If you’ve got a head for heights, ziplining through Rotorua’s ancient forests is an unbeatable way to take it all in. This evening you’ll get a true taste of Māori culture during a visit to a cultural and geothermal wonderland. Here you’ll enjoy a hangi dinner, a traditional meal cooked underground, giving it a delicious earthy flavour. You’ll also experience a soul-stirring haka performance.
Day 10 - Taupo
Take in the sights before heading south to Taupo. Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa is the perfect place to unwind, or head to Kuirau Park to walk through a landscape of hissing natural hot pools. If your morning activities have inspired an appetite, the town is chock full of tempting cafes and bakeries serving up local favourites. Say goodbye to Rotorua and get on the road once more, heading to Taupo. Stop at the thundering Huka Falls during the drive before arriving in Taupo, set on the shores of the mighty Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. We’ll spend two nights here, the perfect base to explore Taupo and Tongariro National Park.
Day 11 - Taupo
A volcanic eruption 70,000 years ago created the magnificent Lake Taupo, which now hosts visitors from around New Zealand and the world, keen to both relax and get their blood pumping with the adventure sports and hikes on offer. With a free day here, you’ll have plenty to choose from. If you’re a keen hiker, you may like to complete the Tongariro Crossing, New Zealand’s most famous day hike. At 19.4km long, the path takes you around a volcano, past lakes, craters and bush. A variety of guided or unguided options are available, but a good level of fitness and appropriate gear for all types of weather are a must for anyone considering tackling the crossing today. There are shorter hikes in the park available or, for the thrill seekers, you might like to go skydiving or bungy jumping.
Day 12 - Wellington
Wellington is calling – leave Taupo behind and drive on to New Zealand’s trendy and attractive capital city. Strung between staggering green hills and a delightful harbour, Wellington holds onto a small-town charm despite its capital status. The city is known for its creative and artistic endeavours, making it a real joy to explore. Arrive in the afternoon, your leader will give you a brief introduction to the city before you are free to explore as you wish. You may like to head up Mt Victoria for a view that will help you appreciate Wellington in all its glory. The rest of the evening is yours to explore the capital. With a booming food scene, be sure to ask your leader for some wonderful restaurant recommendations.
Day 13 - Wellington
Today is all about getting to know windy Wellington, a charming place even on its most blustery days! Kick the day off with an orientation tour with your leader, checking out the bays, central Wellington, the Botanic Gardens and the Parliament Buildings. Next up it's a visit to Zealandia, a groundbreaking conservation project that has successfully reintroduced over 20 species of native wildlife into this area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years. Pay a visit to Weta Workshop, the special effects studio used by Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While here you’ll have the chance to take an optional tour around the studio to find out how the team here create film magic. This afternoon, you may like to check out Wellington’s most famous cultural attraction, Te Papa Museum. Displaying an intriguing combination of New Zealand’s history and cultural heritage woven with cutting edge technology and interactive displays, there’s something here to entertain everyone. If you’d rather spend the afternoon outdoors, a tour of Kapiti Island offers the chance to spot an abundance of rare and beautiful birds.
Day 14 - Kaikoura
Say goodbye to the North Island and cross the Cook Strait on board a ferry, taking in some pretty unforgettable views along the way. Your introduction to New Zealand’s South Island sets the tone for the rest of the journey – pass through the iconic landscapes of the Marlborough Sounds as you cruise into Picton Harbour. Aside from its marvellous scenery, the Marlborough region is known for its production of world-class white wine, so what better way to get a taste of the South Island than by visiting some of its best wineries? Stop by and sample their goods while learning what makes Marlborough wine so renowned. Continue your journey south, eventually arriving in Kaikoura where you will stop for the night. This seaside town is known for its abundance of marine wildlife. This evening perhaps head out for a crayfish dinner – it’s a real specialty here!
Day 15 - Christchurch
Embrace a free morning to enjoy all Kaikoura has to offer. Kaikoura is famously one of the world’s top spots for whale watching, so perhaps take advantage of your time here and head out on a boat trip in search of humpbacks, orcas and sperm whales. Regroup and check out a colony of native fur seals, then depart Kaikoura and travel down to Christchurch, the South Island’s biggest city. Perhaps head out for dinner, or rest up for an exciting day ahead tomorrow. A meeting will take place at your hotel tomorrow morning to welcome any travellers joining you for the next leg of your journey.
Day 16 - Christchurch / Lake Tekapo / Ohau
Christchurch is not just a pretty city – it’s also remarkably resilient. After a devastating earthquake destroyed much of the downtown area in 2011, the city has begun to rebuild in innovative and creative ways. Head out with your leader this morning to see this for yourself. Stop by the Christchurch Cathedral, which stood as a symbol of the city before collapsing in the earthquake, and has now been replaced with an architecturally striking and quake-proof structure made out of cardboard. After a morning of exploring, say goodbye to Christchurch and drive inland to Lake Tekapo. An eye-catching combination of purple lupins, turquoise waters and snow-dusted peaks makes this one of the most photo-worthy spots in the country. The Church of the Good Shepherd sits on the shores of the lakes and attracts couples from all over the world shooting their wedding pictures. It’s easy to see why – backdrops don’t get much better than this! Continue to Lake Ohau where you’ll spend the night.
Day 17 - Mackenzie Country / Queenstown
Hit the road this morning for a journey to remember – watch out the window as you pass the sprawling grasslands of the Mackenzie Basin and showstopping peaks of the Southern Alps. Your drive will be broken up with plenty of scenic stops, including a visit to Kawarau Gorge, a popular spot for bungy jumping. If you’re feeling adventurous, get involved and jump off the suspension bridge crossing the gorge, or just stand back and watch brave jumpers take the plunge. Continue on to Queenstown, known as the adventure capital of the world, and rightfully so! Aside from its high-adrenaline attractions, Queenstown has a booming culinary scene, produces some of the world's best wine and boasts unbelievable scenery at every turn.
Day 18 - Queenstown
The day is all yours to discover the varied delights of Queenstown. There are loads of options to get your heartrate up, whether you fancy shooting down the river on a jet boat, river kayaking, flying above the town in a gondola or a 4WD adventure through landscapes of Lord of the Rings fame. If you’d like to take things a little slower, perhaps head to the Gibbston Valley to taste wines only topped by the inspiring scenery. A walk around the stunning Lake Wakatipu will give you a good dose of fresh air and epic views. There’s no shortage of dining options to tempt your tastebuds – if you’re willing to wait, a famous Fergburger is hard to beat!
Day 19 - Queenstown / Wanaka
Take the chance this morning to cross off any Queenstown activities you didn’t have time for yesterday – be sure to speak to your leader for tips on the best way to spend a morning here. In the afternoon, get back on the road for a seriously scenic 1-hour drive to Wanaka through the Crown Range Mountains. Stop off along the way in Arrowtown, a little goldrush town with big personality. Take a walk along the tree-lined high street where historic buildings nod to the town’s glory days. Arrive in Wanaka in the afternoon and embrace the vibe of this laidback and beautiful town. With Lake Wanaka as its glittering centrepiece and dramatic mountains as its backdrop, the town is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most bewitching. This afternoon you may like to head out on a hike or just stretch out on the shores of the lake and take it all in.
Day 20 - Wanaka
Visit the beautiful Mou Waho Island today. Accessible only by boat from Wanaka and famous for being home to an (unnamed) island, in a lake (Arethusa Pool), on an island (Mou Waho), in a lake (Lake Wanaka), on an island (the South Island) in the ocean (the Pacific). Sounds complicated, but once you are there it will all make sense! Enjoy a walk through this fascinating scenery and learn more about this predator-free reserve with a natural glacial-formed lake at its summit. Your afternoon is free to explore Wanaka and surrounds. No visit to Wanaka would be complete without seeing #thatwanakatree. Springing up from the waters of Lake Wanaka, this sloping willow is one of the most photographed trees in the world. There's no shortage of excellent hiking routes in the region if you'd like to get out and explore on foot, or you may prefer to hire a bike and hit the cycling trails.
Day 21 - Wanaka / Franz Josef
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Wanaka before getting back on the road and making tracks for Franz Josef. This is another incredible drive that you're going to want to have your camera ready for. Depending on the weather, stop off at either Lake Hawea or Lake Wanaka, both boasting incredible lookout points. Along the way, your leader will pause at some off the beaten track spots to snap some pictures and stretch your legs. Arrive into Franz Josef in the early evening and perhaps head out to one of the town’s cosy pubs for dinner.
Day 22 - Franz Josef
Rise and shine – you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and there's so much to discover here. Known for the dazzling Franz Josef glacier and awe-inspiring views of Mt Cook, this is natural beauty on the biggest scale. The region also has a cultural history that’s every bit as captivating as its natural wonders. Only found in the South Island of New Zealand, pounamu (greenstone) is an important part of Maori culture. Today you’ll pay a visit to a local gallery where you’ll have the chance to carve your own pounamu pendant while learning about its spiritual and cultural significance. If you’d like to get up close and personal with Franz Josef Glacier in the afternoon, you can arrange for a helicopter to drop you in for a hike. You may prefer to sit back and unwind in local hot springs, or head out kayaking on an icy blue glacial lake. Your leader will be on hand to help make arrangements.
Day 23 - Hokitika / Greymouth / Christchurch
Begin the journey up the west coast – this is the rainiest part of New Zealand, resulting in greenery and lush rainforests like nowhere else in the country. Stop off in the lovely little town of Hokitika where a visit to a pounamu factory will give you the chance to pick up any last souvenirs of gifts. If time allows, there may be the chance to check out the National Kiwi Centre – the nocturnal house here gives visitors the opportunity to see how these delightful birds behave at night. The next stretch of your journey may just be the most magnificent – hop aboard the TranzAlpine train back to Christchurch, widely believed to be one of the top train journeys in the world. Cross through the Southern Alps via Arthur’s Pass and travel past the rushing blue waters of the Waimakariri River and endless native beech forest. Arrive in Christchurch in the evening.
Day 24 - Christchurch
Your South Island adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you’d like to spend some more time in Christchurch, just get in touch ahead of time and we’d be happy to arrange additional accommodation (subject to availability).

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
21-10-202413-11-2024AUD $ 10,495-
01-12-202424-12-2024AUD $ 10,495-
12-01-202504-02-2025AUD $ 10,495-
09-02-202504-03-2025AUD $ 10,495-
16-02-202511-03-2025AUD $ 10,495-
28-02-202523-03-2025AUD $ 10,495-
16-03-202508-04-2025AUD $ 10,495-
13-04-202506-05-2025AUD $ 10,495-

Accommodation

Hotel/Motel (23 nights)

Transport

Private Vehicle,Train,Ferry

Map