Days
22
Price from
$6,882AUD

From Doubtful Sound to the Bay of Islands, explore the whole of New Zealand

The Great Outdoors don’t get much greater than New Zealand. The South Island is one of stunning mountain views, glassy lakes, lush meadows and modern cities. Hike the Franz Josef Glacier, kayak with dolphins in Doubtful Sound, view New Zealand's highest peak, and go wild in Queenstown. Then cross to the North Island and make your way from the secluded beaches of the coast to the volcanic craters of the central plateau on this explorer trip. And the outdoors aren’t just for looking at here – they’re the place for mountain biking and kayaking in Nelson, bungee jumping and jet boating at Taupo, underground black-water rafting in Waitomo, or sea kayaking and snorkelling on a Bay of Islands adventure cruise. Strap in for an unforgettable travel experience and a serious natural adventure.


Start
Christchurch, New Zealand
Finish
Auckland, New Zealand
Destination
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer, The Great Outdoors, Walking & Trekking
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 15
Code
PTOACU

Why we love this trip

  • Once you experience the spectacular scenery of the Doubtful Sound you wont want to leave – luckily enough you’ll get to overnight on a boat as you cruise through the fjords of this remote wilderness area

  • You wouldn’t want New Zealand to lose its empty and personal feeling – that’s just one of the reasons why we travel in small groups

  • With plenty of nature hikes, adventure activities and amazing views in every direction, Queenstown is in a class of its own

  • There are a few ways to explore the stunner of Abel Tasman National Park, but trekking along walking trails through lush forest to beautiful coves or kayaking on the blue water are our favourites

  • Franz Josef Glacier is every adventurer's dream. Take a guided hike across the glacier, get your blood pumping on a quad bike ride around the area or enjoy unmatched views on a scenic flight

  • Kayak around the Bay of Islands during a full day of optional activities. With its sub-tropical climate and clear blue waters, this is the South Pacific's answer to paradise

  • Don’t forget to look up inside Waitomo’s limestone caves, where thousands of glow worms form a convincing impression of a starry night sky

  • Check out the boiling mud pools and spectacular geysers of the thermal regions of Rotorua

  • Visit Lake Taupo, where you can bungee jump, jetboat to the impressive Huka Falls, or conquer the famous Tongariro Alprine Crossing

Is this trip right for you?

  • Accommodation on this trip isn't luxurious, but it's comfortable enough for you to relax after a day of adventure.

  • There are more optional activities on this trip than included ones. These activities range from trekking moderate hiking trails to white water rafting, so you'll be able to choose your own adventure level.

  • You'll be spending quite a lot of time in a minibus as you travel through the islands. The bus may be small, but it's comfortable, and offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers and gaze at passing landscapes.

Itinerary

Kia-ora! Welcome to New Zealand. This Kiwi adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. If you’ve got some time before, get to know Christchurch, one of the country’s most exciting cities, re-emerging after the earthquake of 2011. New pop-up cafes, restaurants and bars have sprung up around this resilient city. Drop by the ‘Re:Start’ development on the fringe of the CBD, a shopping and entertainment area of shipping containers, which boasts great coffee, shopping and food. Use this evening however you’d like – maybe get to know your new travel mates.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Leave Christchurch early this morning and cross over the fertile Canterbury Plains, heading for the mountains. Leave the dry earth of the east coast behind and cross the dividing range to go down to the lush, green west coast. The countryside changes pretty quickly, as great deep blue rivers spring from the mountainsides. When you arrive in Punakaiki, maybe take a walk out to Pancake Rocks and watch the power of the waves as they crash against the rocks. In the evening, drive onto Greymouth where you'll spend the night.

Notes: Total driving distance is around five hours (approximately 300kms). Total distance walked is approximately two to three kilometres.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
There’s plenty of time this morning and afternoon to take part in optional activities. Then you’ll leave for Franz Josef Glacier, taking a beautiful drive along the coast of forests, lakes and hidden beaches. Pull into the town of Franz Josef in the evening and relax before tomorrow's activities. Your evening is free, so maybe head out for dinner with the group.

Notes: Total driving distance takes around three hours (approximately 180kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Glacier Flights from - NZD195
Included Activities
  • Kiwi House
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Franz Josef Glacier is an incredible piece of turquoise ice that feels like it’s been picked up straight out of the Poles and dropped into a valley of lush rainforest. The local Māori know it as Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere, or The Tears of Hine Hukatere, named after the Māori legend of lovers Hine Hukatere and Tuawe. After breakfast this morning, the day’s free to explore the glacier area however you like. There are plenty of amazing optional activities to keep you busy – maybe a guided hike across a glacier, kayaking, taking a spin on a quad bike or enjoying unrivalled views of the region on a scenic flight (at your own cost).

Notes: Total driving time is around 30 minutes (approximately 10kms). Total distance walked will be between one and five kilometres.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Glacier Flights from - NZD195
  • Glacier Hike from - NZD339
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast, keep driving down the west coast and climb up through the Haast Pass into the Southern Alps (approximately 4-5 hours). This is the kind of drive you’d see in a car commercial – sweeping roads with fantastic views of the mountains, rivers and lakes. Arriving into Queenstown in the late afternoon, enjoy dinner with the rest of your night free. Over the next few days, you'll make the most of a place that's everyone agrees is the extreme sports capital of the world.

Note: Total driving time is around five and a half hours (approximately 360kms). Total distance walked is around one to two kilometres.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bungy Jumping from - NZD135
  • Jet boating from - NZD135
  • River Rafting - NZD220
Included Activities
  • Arrowtown Tour
  • Lake Matheson
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Strap in, because the next two days are going to be a real ride. There’s no end to the list of optional adventure activities including bungy-jumping, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, helicopter rides, jet boating and paragliding. In the evenings, take a breath and relax back at the lodge.

Notes: Total driving time is around one hour (approximately 10kms). Walking distance will depend on what activities you take part in.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Paragliding NZ - NZD200
  • Mountain Biking Tours - NZD170
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (1)
  • Dinner (1)
Take a break from the adrenaline rush of Queenstown and drive out to Doubtful Sound to board a boat for an overnight cruise through the fjords. Doubtful Sound is easily one of the most amazing landscapes in New Zealand and, in a country so full of them, that’s no small honour. More difficult to reach and so less visited that nearby Milford Sound, the water runs along a route through towering, forested mountains that was once carved by glaciers. Feel small as you look out at the peaks and crashing waterfalls from the boat. Enjoy a dinner on-board with the rest of the group this evening.

Notes: Total driving time is around three hours (approximately 170kms). Your boat has four berth cabins, so you'll be sharing your space with travellers of the same or different sex. Twin share cabins aren't available on the boat this night.
Accommodation
  • Doubtful Sound Overnight Boat Cruise (4 berth cabins) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Back on dry land, drive back up to Canterbury and the foot of Aoraki (Mt Cook) (approximately 5 hours), which, at an impressive 3,754 m (12,316 ft.), is New Zealand's highest peak. The drive takes you over expansive high-country farmland with views of the Alps, rivers and lakes. When you get to Mt Cook National Park you'll spend the night in a lodge in an amazing location. Use the days here to explore meadows, lakes, streams and glaciers, and look out for the world's only alpine parrot, the kea.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • 360 Degree Screen Documentary - NZD20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
Leave Mt Cook this morning and make your way back to Christchurch. You should have some time to explore the city before meeting up with new members of your group around 6.30 pm. In the evening, maybe head out for dinner with your new travel friends (own expense).

Notes: Total driving time is around five hours (approximately 320kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Christchurch early this morning and head up the beautiful coastline to Kaikoura, a place where many adventures await. When you arrive, there’s the option to take a boat trip whale watching and experience being close to some of the largest creatures in the world (whale watching activities are subject to weather conditions). If you want to see the area from a different perspective, there are plane or helicopter flights that sweep over the water on the lookout for whales. Kaikoura is famous for its cuisine and marine life, so there’s a whole lot to see and do, including swimming with dolphins.

Notes: Total driving time is around three hours (approximately 160kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kaikoura Seal Colony
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
ITINERARY VARIATION DUE TO RECENT EARTHQUAKE

We will drive from Christchurch through the Nelson Lakes district toward Murchison where we will stay this evening. The drive will take us through some spectacular mountain scenery as we make plenty of stops for photograph opportunities. Murchison offers some unique activities and also a free museum and stunning river walk for those who prefer to relax rather than indulge in some adrenalin activities. Fur seals that normally would have been visited in Kaikoura can normally be seen in Abel Tasman National Park aboard the water taxi or many of the Kayak tours.
Next up is Nelson, in the heart of the wine producing area and Abel Tasman National Park. This pleasantly sunny place if home to some of the best sea kayaking in the world. You’ll take this afternoon to explore this picturesque town, and there’s a huge choice of ways to do it. Kayaking, boating, sailing in the Abel Tasman National Park, mountain biking or just relaxing in town or on the beach – it’s your choice.

Notes: Total driving time is around four hours (approximately 240kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dolphin Swim - NZD170
  • Whale Watching - NZD155
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today’s another chance to visit a little piece of coastal paradise – Abel Tasman National Park. Tackle the walking tracks that wind their way between bush-wrapped beaches, gorgeous inlets and coves, all of it just begging to be explored. Don’t miss out a boat ride in a water taxi. Also make sure you got plenty of space left on your camera’s memory card – there are so many amazing photo opportunities. If you have time, you could sample a bit of the local drop with a winery tour.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kayak Tour from - NZD140
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Take the inter-island ferry and cross to the North Island, cruising through the spectacular scenery of the Marlborough Sound – the islands scattered across the bay are like green-forested tentacles, the peaks of ancient sunken valleys treading above the surface (approximately 5.5 hours). You’ll arrive in Wellington in the afternoon. Maybe jump in a cable car to the Botanic Gardens for views of Wellington city and its harbour. Tonight, take advantage of the capital city’s nightlife.

Notes: Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 130kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Scenic Cruise via Queen Charlotte Sounds
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the day with a visit to the Te Papa Tongarewa museum, the museum of New Zealand, which is home to many Maori cultural artefacts and the remains of the world's largest specimen of colossal squid. Captured in 2007, it weighs in a massive 495kg. Then, head through the central North Island plains towards the great volcanoes and Mount Ruapehu National Park. There are a few different ways to make the most of this stunning setting; maybe start with some lower altitude bush walks near the lodge.

Notes: Total driving time is around four and a half hours (approximately 330kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Wellington - Te Papa Museum
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you might want to hike the famous Tongariro Crossing track, a full day of hiking that requires a decent level of fitness to complete. The rewards are worth it though – it’s considered NZ´s best one-day hike and has fantastic views. Be prepared for amazing landscapes of mountains, hot springs and an insight into why Lord of the Rings was filmed here. In the evening, relax after a long day and enjoy dinner with the group.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Tongariro Crossing - NZD35
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Head one hour away to Taupo, widely known as the North Island's home of extreme sports. On the way, stop by the spectacular Huka Falls. Here you can bungy-jump, ride in a jet boat, or take part in any number of other activities. If that’s not your speed, how about just relaxing by the shores of the largest lake in New Zealand? This is definitely a trip highlight. Next you’ll visit the Whakarewarewa, site of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute and thermal area in Rotorua. See geysers and boiling mud pools in an amazing display of the power of nature. Tonight there’s the option for a Maori Hangi dinner and concert.

Notes: Total driving time is around two and a half hours (approximately 180kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bungy Jumping from - NZD170
  • Jet Boating from - NZD120
  • Maori Cultural Evening - NZD80
  • Mountain Biking - NZD60
  • River Rafting - NZD200
  • Thermal Baths from - NZD15
Included Activities
  • Rotorua - Te Puia Maori Art & Cultural Centre
  • Huka Falls
  • Te Puia Thermals
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive west for around two hours, leaving Taupo for Waitomo. Today there are some great optional activities to choose from – you can head out on a boat trip, walk through the glow worm caves or go black water rafting. This is an unforgettable trip that involves hiking and floating down an underground river on an inner tube.

Notes: Total driving time is around two hours (approximately 140kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Black Water Rafting from - NZD135
Included Activities
  • Waitomo - Caves Entrance
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Leave Waitomo and drive north through fantastic scenery towards New Zealand's winterless north. Be prepared for a long drive today, which should take between five and six hours. When you arrive, there are a heap of beautiful beaches and unspoiled places to explore. As there won't be too much light left today, prepare for a full day of optional activities tomorrow, including kayaking and a boat trip to the islands.

Notes: Total driving time is around six and a half hours (approximately 420kms).
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s top holiday destinations. With 144 islands in total, this boating paradise enjoys a sub-tropical climate. Today there area a host of available activities including heading out on the water to the Hole in the Rock or a kayaking tour around the islands. Another option is to visit the village of Russell for a look into New Zealand's interesting past.
Accommodation
  • Lodge (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Boat Trip - Hole in Rock - NZD110
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Make your way back south, passing unspoiled beaches and lush forests that house native trees a thousand years old and massive in size. This area has always been prized for its fantastic native hardwood timbers, which are fortunately now protected. Cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge, with a spectacular view of the Pacific-vibe “City of Sails”, and arrive in Auckland. Your trip finishes on arrival to Auckland at approximately 6pm. Please keep this in mind when booking any onward flights.

Notes: Total driving time is around four hours (approximately 225kms).
Optional Activities
  • Skytower, Auckland - NZD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

15 breakfasts, 4 dinners

Transport

Ferry, Van

Accommodation

Lodge (20 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)

Included activities

  • Pancake Rocks and Blowhole
  • Kiwi House
  • Arrowtown Tour
  • Lake Matheson
  • Kaikoura Seal Colony
  • Scenic Cruise via Queen Charlotte Sounds
  • Wellington - Te Papa Museum
  • Rotorua - Te Puia Maori Art & Cultural Centre
  • Huka Falls
  • Te Puia Thermals
  • Waitomo - Caves Entrance

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Tour commences in Christchurch with group meeting on day 1 at 6:00pm and finishes in Auckland day 22 at approx 6pm; please consider when booking flights and accommodation.
2. We recommend you book accommodation in advance and extend your stay.
3. Trip runs in reverse, see tour code PTOZCU.
4. Allow NZD 870 for meals not included.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.