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Our ultimate tour of New Zealand offers the perfect trip for anyone wishing to see the best of the North and South Islands in one holiday. Our itinerary covering all the best cities New Zealand can offer, along with glaciers, mountains, fiords and wildlife over 19 days.
Start your Ultimate tour of New Zealand in Auckland, before heading to the Bay of Islands to discover Māori history and forgotten shipwrecks. More time in Auckland means you can head up the Sky Tower or simply enjoy a city tour. Next up, Rotorua offers gondola rides, spectacular views, and even farm tours. Then it’s on to Wellington, with its charming funicular railway giving impressive views over the city.
Crossing the Cook Strait takes you to the South Island and towards Christchurch, before boarding the TranzAlpine train for an incredible journey through the mountains to Arthur’s Pass. Glaciers, rugged scenery, and waterfalls await. Queenstown is next on the list, offering challenging experiences like the Shotover Jet or bungee jumping if you’re feeling brave. After adventurous Queenstown, things slow down with Doubtful Sound and its many wildlife spotting opportunities. Dunedin is next, offering an historic castle and famous railway station to explore.
- Auckland city tour
- Arthur's Pass National Park
- Doubtful Sound cruise
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens
Start your Journey
Arrival in Auckland
Your tour begins as you land in the city of Auckland, on New Zealand’s North Island. Relax with a drink as you look ahead to your itinerary spread over the next 18 days, discovering the many famous and lesser known highlights of New Zealand.
Auckland and Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands awaits you, where the history of the earliest settlers will be uncovered at the Kauri Museum. Named after the kauri trees in nearby Waipoua Forest, the museum has specimens of kauri trees up to 30 million years old. You’ll also visit the Treaty Grounds in Waitangi, where you can explore the original Treaty House and marvel at the fine carvings inside the Meeting House. Visitors can also delve into the many elements of Māori history and culture on show here.
Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is yours to explore today. Adventurers can test their sea legs with a boat tour around the islands or perhaps discover sunken ships beneath the surface while diving. You could also stretch your legs with a bike ride along the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, giving easy access to beautiful countryside. If it’s nature you’re after, the noise and striking appearance of the Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri shouldn’t be missed.
When hunger strikes, you will find many charming restaurants in the area, serving delicious local seafood dishes, as well as New Zealand lamb and more. The Sugar Boat, made from kauri wood and settled on dry land off the Waitangi River, is a must see.
Bay of Islands and Auckland
Discover a new side of the North Island as you journey towards the famous Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett. Look out for dolphins and other marine mammals from your comfortable position on board a speedy, comfortable catamaran.
From Paihia, it’s then time to head back to Auckland, where an afternoon exploring the city awaits. Look for the famous Sky Tower and learn more about the city precincts – from the Aotea Arts Quarter to the Viaduct and Waterfront. An easy walking tour of the highlights ensures you won’t miss out on anything.
Auckland and Rotorua
Depart Auckland and head back to the age of steam on the Glenbrook Vintage Railway. Travel in style to reach Rainbow Springs, sampling mouth watering food along the way while admiring the stunning views.
The Rainbow Springs Nature Park is famous for its kiwi conservation programme. Discover more about them by embarking on a kiwi hatchery tour. Giant eggs, a kiwi burrow and much more are available to enjoy in the interactive onsite experience.
Begin your day in Rotorua in style by stepping on board the Skyline gondola ride and take in the landscape below. Freshly brewed coffee and a delicious breakfast await at the top. From there, you’ll journey to the Agrodome where you will come face to face with rare breeds, take a farm tour and feed the animals.
Rotorua is also home to Te Puia, which is at the heart of the Māori culture and filled with the natural forces of the earth. The highlight is the Pohutu geyser, alongside numerous pools of bubbling mud. As evening approaches, you’ll get the chance to experience the true Māori way of cooking at a ‘Hāngi’, where food is cooked underground.
Rotorua and Wellington
Today you say goodbye to Rotorua and head to Wellington, stopping at the stunning Huka Falls in Taupo on the way. The noise of the falls reaches you before you reach them. Nearby walking tracks make it easy to view the falls from all angles.
From there, eager photographers can make the most of journeying past Tongariro National Park on the way to the Southward Car Museum. The highlight is a Model T Ford, costing £40 when it was first purchased. The day ends with your arrival in Wellington, the country’s capital by the Cook Strait.
A city tour is the best way to find your bearings in the charming and vibrant city of Wellington. Wander down to the waterfront to take in the latest exhibitions in Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.
The afternoon is yours to enjoy as you wish. Take in the Wellington Botanic Garden, filled with beautiful plants and trees set into the side of a hill. A refreshing walking tour offering views over the city and coast. Alternatively, cover more of Wellington with a trip on the city’s funicular railway which runs between Lambton Quay and Kelburn.
Wellington and Christchurch
The Cook Strait lies between guests and their next destination upon leaving Wellington – the town of Picton. The Interislander Ferry takes you past Arapawa Island and Curious Cove and offers amazing views of the Marlborough Sounds as you approach the South Island.
You’ll then switch from boat to train, settling back to enjoy views over the Pacific Ocean. Your destination? Kaikoura, a fishing village filled with charm. From there it’s on to Christchurch, travelling through the Canterbury Plains, offering a mix of land, rivers and scenic views. Christchurch awaits at the end of the day’s explorations.
Start off your day in the biggest city on the South Island with a fascinating tour to help you get your bearings. Visitors will also gain entry to the International Antarctic Centre, where you can enjoy a 4D theatre, Storm Room and the opportunity to meet some friendly huskies.
The afternoon is yours to spend as you wish, with the chance to relax in Hagley Park and perhaps dip into the adjacent Christchurch Botanic Gardens too. Mature trees, established paths and a relaxed sense of nature await. Alternatively, let someone else take the strain by heading for the Avon River to enjoy some river punting.
Christchurch, Arthur's Pass and the Fox Glacier
Experience a rail journey like no other as you take your seat on the TranzAlpine train from Christchurch to Arthur’s Pass. You’ll be taken through the heart of the Southern Alps, some 900 metres above sea level, with mountains, waterfalls, and spectacular views everywhere you look.
Those with a head for heights can also add a scenic flight to their itinerary. It provides the perfect way to witness the Fox Glacier from above – your destination for the day, having travelled through the pass to reach Hokitika, a West Coast town on the South Island.
Fox Glacier and Queenstown
Visitors will leave the Fox Glacier behind today, although the stunning snowy scenery continues during the journey further south towards Queenstown. The town sits between Lake Wakatipu and the mountains behind, offering fine views and many challenging and steep streets to explore.
Settle into the town with a meal in one of the many tempting restaurants. You’ve got over 150 eateries and bars to choose from, serving everything from local favourites to international dishes. Burn off those calories by wandering along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to end the day.
Adventurers will be spoiled for activities in Queenstown. Spend the day aboard the Shotover Jet, which takes you through stunning canyons within inches of the rock. Alternatively, a more sedate journey can be enjoyed on the Skyline gondola. Savour the views over the lake along with a tasty meal in the Stratosfare Restaurant at the top. If you’re feeling competitive, you and your loved one can tackle the luge – a challenging 800 metre course you’ll want to repeat.
The day ends in style with a relaxed evening cruise on board a steamship, taking you to Walter Peak Station, where home cooked food awaits to round off a sensational day.
Queenstown and Doubtful Sound
Leaving Queenstown behind today, you’ll head south to reach Te Anau, at the southern end of Lake Te Anau and the Fiordland National Park. The Fiordland Navigator will be your home for the next two days, enabling you to marvel at the changing scenery and superb wildlife spotting opportunities. Viewing decks are designed to give you the maximum chance of seeing native mammals.
A buffet dinner in the fine dining saloon will satisfy your appetite, before you settle into your cabin for a peaceful night anchored within Doubtful Sound.
Doubtful Sound and Te Anau
Following a fine buffet breakfast, you’ll discover even more of Doubtful Sound today, journeying out as far as the Tasman Sea. There are no missed opportunities to spot wildlife or appreciate the views, as your journey continues back through the Sound to reach Te Anau once more.
Known as the gateway to Milford Sound, Te Anau offers wonderful views over the lake. Local restaurants serve numerous fresh fish dishes, while hiking can be combined with a visit to the Glow Worm Caves nearby.
Te Anau and Dunedin
Dunedin lies to the east of Te Anau, marking the next stop on your tour. You’ll learn more about the city of over 120,000 people during a fascinating tour. Soak in the architectural styles of both Edwardian and Victorian times, mixed together to provide a captivating cityscape to explore.
Admire the views over Otago Harbour. Discover the history of the island at Otago Museum, which boasts over 1.5 million exhibits. For a quieter, more colourful afternoon, spend some time in the Dunedin Botanic Garden. Dripping with colour and established over the past 150 years, it provides the perfect place to rest and relax.
Otago Peninsula is known as the wildlife capital of the country – and for good reason. You’ll discover why today as you journey towards this part of Dunedin. You’ll also explore the only castle in the country - Larnach Castle. The Ballroom Café provides a chance for rest and relaxation in the historic grounds, while you tuck into a Devonshire tea.
The afternoon is yours to enjoy however you wish in Dunedin. Challenge your biking skills exploring the rugged terrain around Dunedin or grab your camera and take photos of the historic railway station building. You can also opt to take a scenic trip out of Dunedin on a return journey.
Dunedin and Christchurch
Time to leave Dunedin and enjoy the coastal journey back north towards Christchurch. Savour the final opportunity to take photos and enjoy the views along the east coast of the South Island, through Port Chalmers, Kakanui and Oamaru. Finish the day with a last chance to try some local dishes during dinner.
Your tour ends as you board your homeward flight from Christchurch or continue your onward journey
- Personalised Meet & Greet on arrival
- Return airport transfers in New Zealand
- Ultimate Small Group Tour Coach with 20 luxury leather reclining seats on a full size vehicle, 2 door access and panoramic windows
- Professional Coach Captain
- 17 nights accommodation
- All sightseeing and pre paid attractions
- 18 breakfasts, 14 dinners, 1 picnic lunch and 2 morning teas
- 4 rail journeys
- 5 cruises
- GST (New Zealand Goods and Services Tax)
- Hotel porterage
- Bonus group photo
- Dinner on day 1 is not included for anyone arriving after 8pm
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
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