Unforgettable 17 days exploring New Zealand's North & South Islands!
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Group Size: Avg 22, Max 30
Trip code: NXGKBC
Duration: 17 days
New Zealand - land of fairy-tale scenery, Maori traditions, hobbits, and ice ice baby! This epic 17-day group tour takes in the diverse highlights of both North and South Islands, from snow-capped mountains and vast glaciers, to rolling vineyards and turquoise seas. Learn the Haka with Maoris in Rotorua, hang with the hipsters in Wellington, tuck into an authentic Hangi lunch and get your adrenaline pumping with a bungee jump in Queensland – sweet as!
- Cruise Milford Sound fjord – one of the most beautiful places on Earth
- Go wine tasting in the stunning Marlborough region
- Visit the magical Waitomo Caves, lit by thousands of glow-worms
- Explore Tongariro National Park, including Lake Taupo and the magnificent Huka Falls
- Stay in a traditional Maori marae, and learn the Haka
This trip runs either from Auckland to Christchurch, or Christchurch to Auckland - you chose! Please select the direction of travel you'd prefer in the booking section to see the start dates.
Day 1: Auckland to Rotorua. Kia ora – welcome to New Zealand! We’re heading to Rotorua, with a stop at the Waitomo Caves. Choose to visit on foot, by boat or on a black-water raft! The magical caves are lit up the fairy-tale sparkle of thousands of tiny glow-worms – you have to see it to believe it! In Rotorua we’ll stay in a traditional Maori marae where we’ll learn some Haka moves and watch a Poi dance, before tucking into a delicious dinner.
Day 2: Rotorua. Free day in Rotorua. Check out the geo-thermal attractions, the Government Gardens and the local museum. We’ve also got some amazing optional activities – pamper yourself with a mud bath and spa, take a canopy tour, try zorbing and white water rafting, or for all the Lord of the Rings fans out there, the Hobbiton movie set tour is a must.
Day 3: Rotorua to Tongariro National Park. Travel to Tongariro National Park - an awe-inspiring landscape sculpted by volcanic eruptions and ice-age glaciers. Marvel at the colourful hot springs, bubbling mud pools, Huka Falls and Lake Taupo. A traditional Hangi lunch (a meal of roasted veggies and meat cooked in an underground pit) is included today.
Day 4: Tongariro National Park. Turn the heat up again; we’re heading back into the volcanic park! We’ll take you on a short guided walk through the rugged landscape. You’ll also have the opportunity to walk the legendary Tongariro Alpine Crossing. If you’d rather save your legs, there’s an optional quad-biking experience on offer – awesome!
Days 5 - 6: Wellington. Continue south to the vibrant capital city of Wellington – regularly voted one of the coolest cities in the world! You’ll go on a city tour, and then have the rest of your stay to explore the city at your own pace. With hip craft-beer pubs, a lovely harbour, one of the best interactive museums in the world and a Lord of the Rings workshop, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
Days 7 - 8: Wellington to Nelson. Hop on the ferry to South Island today. Stop at a family-run vineyard before arriving in the charming coastal city of Nelson. You’ll enjoy a delish Kiwi barbecue, and then have free time to explore the city’s funky cafes and amazing art galleries on day 8. Optional activities include kayaking and seal-spotting, skydiving or a day tour of Abel Tasman National Park.
Day 9: Nelson to Kaikoura. Pretty Kaikoura is right on the ocean, backed by the ruggedly beautiful Kaikoura mountain range. Take a walk along the seafront, keeping your eyes peeled for seals and humpback whales. Then grab some insanely fresh seafood from one of the fish restaurants downtown. We’ve got an amazing optional activity on offer too – swimming with dolphins! It’s an experience you’ll never forget.
Day 10: Kaikoura to Christchurch. We’ll travel on to Christchurch today. Full of street art, quirky cafes, independent boutiques and cutting-edge architecture, it’s a great place to spend a day or two. Explore some of the hipster bars tonight with your travel buddies.
Day 11: Christchurch to Fox Glacier. We’ll go from sipping lattes in the city to visiting NZ’s most famous glacier – a 13km long wintery wonder. Travel through epic scenery to get there, stopping at Lake Matheson for that killer Insta-shot. When the lake is still, the snow-capped mountains are reflected in the water – it’s unreal!
Day 12: Fox Glacier to Queenstown. Explore the glacier today with a combined helicopter ride and hiking experience or with a scenic flight– unforgettable. Hop on the bus to Queenstown. We’ll take you on a quick tour, then set you free to explore. The city’s nightlife is buzzing so get out there! If you didn’t get your fill of the cold stuff on the glacier, why not check out the ice bar?
Days 13 - 15: Queenstown. Queenstown is a thrill-seekers paradise! Over the next few days you’ll have the opportunity to try bungee jumping, jet boating, canyon swinging, white-water rafting, jet boating, skydiving and funyaking – phew! On day 14, we’ll visit Milford Sound. A deep blue fjord bordered by a jaw-dropping series of rock faces and dramatic waterfalls, Milford Sound is without question, one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Day 16: Queenstown to Lake Ohau. Travel to Arrowtown. Get those thighs warmed up – we’re saddling up on mountain bikes for a ride along the banks of the Arrow River. Our home for the night is a cosy lodge. Enjoy a tasty homemade dinner with your mates tonight and clink glasses to the amazing couple of weeks you’ve just spent together.
Day 17: Lake Ohau to Christchurch. It may be our last day, but we can still squeeze in some fun. Stop at Lake Tekapo for one more envy-inducing selfie before we head back to Christchurch. We’ll have one final wander around the funky city, before swapping numbers and saying our goodbyes – sniff, sniff. We’ll miss you guys!
Please note - If you're beginning the tour in Christchurch, the destinations visited on the South Island will be in the following order: Fox Glacier - Queenstown - Lake Ohau - Christchurch. The rest of the tour will run in reverse order of the itinerary departing from Auckland. All inclusions and included activities will remain the same.
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You’ll need to fly into Auckland Airport (AKL). We’re kicking off early on day 1, so we recommend that you book your flight to arrive the day before or earlier. You’ll need to arrange your own transfer from the airport and your own accommodation if you arrive the day before.
Your trip will end in Christchurch in the late afternoon/early evening of day 17. We recommend you book an extra night after your trip ends and fly home the following day. The nearest airport is Christchurch International Airport (CHC).
If you have selected the Christchurch to Auckland route, you will need to arrange flights to land into Christchurch and out of Auckland.
We can advise you on arranging extra accommodation. Please contact us for more details
16 nights’ accommodation is included as part of the Grand Kiwi adventure. This is on a multi share basis, in a range of hotels, hostels, motels and cabins. Accommodation is based on four people sharing in same-sex dorms. Twin or double rooms are available at an extra charge. You’ll also enjoy 1 night in a traditional Maori Marae. A marae is a complex of traditional carved wood houses belonging to a particular tribe, with a central meeting house at their heart. Marae life is very communal with everybody usually sleeping in the same room and eating all together.
Some but not all meals are included. We’ll provide a total of 16 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 6 dinners. The rest of the time you’ll have to buy your meals (and all your snacks and drinks) yourself. This gives you maximum flexibility to eat wherever and whenever you like, and to try traditional Kiwi cuisine.
You must be a minimum of 18 years old to join this trip. This trip is designed for 18-39 year olds.
Visitors who are transitting through or entering New Zealand as tourists will need to hold an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) before travelling to New Zealand. Tourists will also need to pay an International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) alongside the ETA. Tourists can enter for up to 6 months. People entering New Zealand on a Working Holiday Visa do not require an ETA.
If you are planning on working at all during your time in New Zealand, you will need to apply for a Working Holiday Visa (available to 18-30 year olds) and can do this by visiting the New Zealand Immigration website.