Explore roads less travelled on this special small group New Zealand tour and discover country hospitality and nature in the wild. In the North Island we discover authentic Maori culture around Rotorua and visit Tongariro National Park, in the South Island we tour the Mount Cook region and visit famous Milford Sound by land, sea and air. Meet the locals over private lunches at Lake Tarawera, a mid-Canterbury farmhouse and Lake Wanaka.

18 Night / 19 Day New Zealand Tour - Both Islands

Auckland
Rotorua
Tongariro National Park
Napier
Wellington
Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park
Kaikoura
Mount Cook
Queenstown
Milford Sound
Wanaka
Franz Josef Glacier
Punakaiki
Christchurch
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Tour Price

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$9190 pp twin
$11290 pp single
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Tour Map

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland

Auckland panoramic view in the morning - NZ Tour both islands

Your tour starts from Auckland, New Zealand’s "City of Sails" and one of the friendly MoaTrek team will meet you at the airport today (or whenever you arrive) and will drop you off at your hotel. Your home for the night is just a short stroll away from the cafes and restaurants of Viaduct Harbour, Wynyard Quarter, Princes Wharf and the downtown shopping district. Can’t wait to get out into that New Zealand fresh air?  Ferries to Devonport or the Hauraki Gulf islands are right there too!

There’s no better way to get your bearings than to take the stunning view from the Sky Tower, or a short ride to the Auckland Museum, watching over the city from the Auckland Domain.

What you'll love today
  • One of the friendly MoaTrek family will meet you team at the airport for a short city orientation and drop you off at your waterfront accommodation.
  • Everything is right at your doorstep, easy walking distance to the viaduct, restaurants, ferries, shopping, theatres, museums, information and services.
Your accommodation tonight

Day 2: Auckland - Rotorua

Happy couple sailing on Lake Rotoiti - NZ Tour Both Island

From Auckland our tour continues to Rotorua, via the lush pastures of the Waikato and fruit basket of the Bay of Plenty. Our first stop is the dramatic Karangahake Gorge for a stroll alongside the Ohinemuri River through native bush to the relics and ruins of this region's gold-mining past.

We pass through Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, where we'll visit a working Kiwifruit orchard before continuing on to the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Along the way, at Okawa Bay, we board "Tiua", a 53ft catamaran for a relaxing sail on serene Lake Rotoiti to secluded coves and natural hot pools reached only by boat - a memorable end to an awesome day.

 

What you'll love today
  • The rich gold mining history of the stunning Karangahake Gorge
  • Sailing across Lake Rotoiti for a soak in secluded hot pools
Your accommodation tonight

Day 3: Rotorua tours and activities

Maori culture experience in Rotorua, Kaka Tour

We’ve got two nights in Rotorua, so take it easy this morning! Perhaps stroll down to the lakeside, just minutes from your hotel, or enjoy one of Rotorua's many guided tours and attractions. Don’t miss nearby Ohinemutu marae, one of only two living Maori villages left in New Zealand.  We'll head to the famous 'Buried Village of Te Wairoa' for a hosted lunch with our friends David and Karen, you’ll love them and their stories from their Maori and European histories.

After lunch let’s take a walk around the village itself before we learn all about our national icon (the Kiwi bird) and the amazing efforts that go into ensuring their survival at the Rotorua Kiwi Encounter.  When you see a live Kiwi you'll be amazed at how big they are! 

What you'll love today
  • Relax over a hosted lunch at New Zealand’s only buried village
  • See a kiwi up close and learn all about the amazing work to help them
Your accommodation tonight

Day 4: Rotorua - Tongariro National Park

Spectacular Wai-O-Tapu geothermal area, Rotorua - NZ Tour Both Islands

No Kiwi holiday would be complete without a visit to the surreal, geothermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and incredibly colourful silica terraces are unforgettable.

From Rotorua we continue on our adventure to ‘Great Lake’ Taupo, for a stop at the famous Huka Falls. We’ll take our time and make plenty of stops around the lake to enjoy the magnificent views of our three volcanoes - Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. These lunar landscape of the volcanic plateau are our next stop on tour, Tongariro National Park.  You’ll love the grandeur of our home for the night ‘Chateau Tongariro’ at the foot of Mt Ruapehu, the perfect spot to stretch your legs on a short walk before dinner. 

What you'll love today
  • Boiling mud and unbelievable colour at Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Area
  • The story behind New Zealand’s oldest National Park and World Heritage Area
Your accommodation tonight

Day 5: Tongariro National Park - Napier

Art Deco Buildings in Napier - NZ Tour both islands

Our day starts in style, with breakfast at the historic Chateau Tongariro nestled at the base of the mountains. This is the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, from this volcanic plateau we make our way across the high country and down to the seaside holiday spot of Hawke’s Bay.  There won’t be many Kiwis who don’t have awesome summer holiday memories from ‘the Bay’!  You'll slip right into holiday mode as we pass through the idyllic Hawke's Bay patchwork of orchards, pasture, vineyards and of course the sweeping coastline. On to Napier, where the afternoon is yours to explore the town at your leisure.

Renowned for its Art Deco architecture, Napier was rebuilt in this style after an earthquake in 1931 and nowadays the whole community embraces Art Deco, there’s definitely a ‘Great Gatsby’ feel to the place! On arrival, take your pick of a guided walking tour of the Napier's impressive Art Deco buildings, or you may prefer a cocktail overlooking the ocean, we’re in the best spot possible tonight! 

What you'll love today
  • The idyllic Hawke’s Bay countryside, wineries and fruit stalls on every corner
  • Learn all about Napier’s art deco history from on a guided walk through town
Your accommodation tonight

Day 6: Napier - Wellington

Wellington Cable Car and views - NZ Tour both islands

Say goodbye to Napier as we travel through the countryside and vineyards, through the small towns of Norsewood and Dannevirke before heading down the Wairarapa Plains to historic, arty Greytown. Its picturesque main street is lined with antique, craft and gift shops, it’s also at the centre of the Wairarapa's premium wine-growing region, go on, grab a glass with lunch, you’re on holiday!

Something different about our tour is the overnight stay in Wellington, we reckon you can’t miss ’the coolest little capital in the world'. We’ll check out the city's sights and head up Mt Victoria for the stunning views over the harbour before getting settled for the night. We’re right in  the heart of Wellington's vibrant hub of museums, theatres, galleries, boutiques and cafes.  Looking for some local flavour? Ask for one of Wellington’s trendy craft beers with your dinner (Our pick – Tuatara).

What you'll love today
  • Driving over the Rimutaka mountain range
  • The heart of Wellington is really cool! 
Your accommodation tonight

Day 7: Wellington - Cook Strait Crossing - Picton - Blenheim - Nelson

MoaTrek guide and guest on the Cook Strait ferry - NZ Tour both islands

Loading up the car and heading across to ‘the mainland’ is what we all used to do on holiday as kids, it’s a Kiwi rite of passage!  We cruise on the Interislander ferry for three hours across Cook Strait and into beautiful Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton to plant our feet firmly on “Te Waka a Maui”, the South Island. Our first port of call is Forrest vineyard for wine tasting and lunch, right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.

From wine country we head to through the heart of Marlborough toward Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Along the way we cross the Pelorus River bridge, scene of the Barrel Run scene from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for 2 nights.

What you'll love today
  • Cruising on the Interislander (get your guide to sing the song!)
  • Marlborough sauvignon blanc with lunch, delicious!
Your accommodation tonight

Day 8: Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park

Stunning Abel Tasman coastline - NZ Tour both islands

Today is a highlight of the tour for many people – everyone has seen stunning photos of Abel Tasman National Park and now you’re here! Take your pick from a full scenic cruise or a cruise / walk combo to hike a section of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Find out how a recent crowd funded initiative increased the area our country's smallest national park to protect even more of this iconic landscape.

The coast is dotted with islands just offshore, sheltered bays, estuaries and golden sand beaches. Lie on the beach, or go for a swim, keeping your eye out for dolphins who often make an appearance. The park is sheltered from ocean swells and enjoys fantastic weather all year round, which is why so many Kiwis dream of visiting Abel Tasman too! After your magical day out we'll return to Nelson for another night. 

What you'll love today
  • Cruising the crystal clear blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park
  • Walk a section of the coastal track, relax on the beach, jump in for a swim!
Your accommodation tonight

Day 9: Nelson - Kaikoura*

Photo by the railway lines on the Kaikoura coast - NZ Tour both islands

We return to Blenheim past the famous Pelorus River (scene of the Barrel Run from the Hobbit) and Havelock before leaving the dry hills of Marlborough behind for the Kaikoura Peninsula. The road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges, the views are spectacular – rugged mountain tops to one side and the endless Pacific ocean to the other, New Zealand to a tee!

Your afternoon is free to explore the peninsula and town on foot, or jump on a local Kaikoura tour - with whale watching, dolphin swimming and Maori culture options.  A local highlight is the seal colony on the edge of town, the perfect chance to get close up to New Zealand fur seals! 

*Due to road closures after the Nov 2016 earthquake in Kaikoura, we have amended our itinerary and will stay in Methven until we have full and safe access to Kaikoura.

What you'll love today
  • Wildlife aplenty - whale watching, dolphin swimming, sea birds, seals, it’s all right here
  • Fresh crayfish (rock lobster). This is where Kiwis stop to pick up fresh seafood on their way through!
Your accommodation tonight

Day 10: Kaikoura - Akaunui Homestead - Aoraki / Mt Cook

Delicious lunch in Canterbury homestead - NZ Tour both islands

Leaving the coast from Kaikoura we head over the hills to the Canterbury Plains, with our first views of the Southern Alps in the distance. Our lunch spot today is at a very special place, Akaunui Homestead, a Canterbury heritage building surrounded by huge gardens.  Enjoy great Kiwi company and fresh produce straight from the garden of our friends, Di and Ian Mackenzie. 

After lunch we continue on our journey through Burke's Pass to New Zealand’s spectacular Mackenzie Country, for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and the backbone of the South Island, the Southern Alps. We’ll make plenty for stops en route, we can’t miss the Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Tekapo and the unreal turquoise blue of Lake Pukaki.  No, we don’t put dye in the lake, it’s that blue! 

What you'll love today
  • A hosted country lunch with friends at Akaunui homestead
  • Watching the sun set on ‘the Cloud Piercer’, from the famous Hermitage Hotel
Your accommodation tonight

Day 11: Aoraki/Mt Cook - Queenstown

Relaxation at Mt Cook - NZ Tour both islands

Always a memorable time on tour, your day in Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain and ‘home ground’ of the most famous Kiwi of all, Sir Edmund Hillary. Take your pick from exploring the dramatic landscape on one of the many easy walking tracks around the village, or make it an experience you’ll never forget with a boat cruise on the glacial lake, a scenic flight or a heli hike high up on the Tasman Glacier!

After lunch we’ll head south, over the Lindis Pass and through the rugged scenery of the Kawarau Gorge onto Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand. We’ll all head up the Gondola to Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views to give you a bird’s eye view of the stunning Wakatipu. Tonight take your pick from the best of Queenstown's restaurants and bars, all an easy walk from our home for the next three nights! 

What you'll love today
  • Surround yourself in New Zealand’s most stunning alpine scenery - there’s nowhere like ‘Aoraki Mt Cook and the Tasman Glacier
  • Settle in for three nights in Queenstown, beginning with the best view in town from the Gondola
Your accommodation tonight

Day 12: Queenstown - Milford Sound

Scenic flight in Milford Sound - NZ Tour both islands

Today is all about the one and only Milford Sound, from Queenstown we follow the shores of the great southern lakes before heading into the heart of Fiordland National Park on the spectacular Milford Road.  Everything you’ve heard is true, this is unreal countryside.

On arrival into Milford head out onto the water on our cruise out onto the sound, dominated by iconic Mitre Peak and home to birdlife, seal colonies and pods of dolphins. A magical flight over the Southern Alps returns us to Queenstown at the end of a fantastic day of touring by land, sea and air. The very best of Milford! 

What you'll love today
  • Milford Sound cruise and scenic flight, no better way to experience Fiordland
  • New Zealand’s most stunning road, through the heart of Fiordland National Park
Your accommodation tonight

Day 13: Queenstown Activities and Day Tours

Enjoying Queenstown Jetboating - NZ Tour both islands

Today is yours to make the most of the infinite choice of day tours and activities Queenstown has to offer, your ‘Kiwi Guide’ will be right there to help.  These days, the ‘Adventure Capital of the World’, caters for a lot more than just adrenalin junkies, the best way we know to sum up Queenstown is by saying that if you went on a holiday to Queenstown with three generations of your family, you’d all have the time of your lives!

What do we love in Queenstown?  A jet boat ride on the remote and beautiful Dart River in The Lord of the Rings scenery, walking along the lakeshore and the Botanic Gardens or take a thrilling raft ride on the Kawarau River. Other favourites are wine tasting in the celebrated boutique vineyards of Central Otago, golf on one of New Zealand’s best courses, a day walk on the famous Routeburn Track or cruising Lake Wakatipu on the 1912 Steamship, the Earnslaw. 

What you'll love today
  • Take your pick from literally hundreds of activities and tours on offer in Queenstown
  • Celebrate your Red Letter Day with dinner at one of the many award winning restaurants on the waterfront
Your accommodation tonight

Day 14: Queenstown - Arrowtown - Wanaka

Ladies enjoying the stunning view of Lake Wanaka - NZ Tour both islands

Our day starts with a short hop to leafy Arrowtown, where gold mining history comes alive beside the Arrow River and in the excellent museum. Then we head into tussock country for the climb up the Crown Range and our last views of the beautiful Wakatipu basin. We call into picture perfect Cardrona Hotel, its history dates back to the colonial era, then continue on to Wanaka. We relax with fine local wines and the chance to meet locals over lunch at their Wanaka lakeside home.  Hmm, anyone thinking of moving here yet?

Our hotel this evening is right on the lake edge, you’ve got plenty of time after lunch to discover this lovely lakeside town for yourself. Bike the waterfront trail, get out on the lake in a kayak or head next door to Rippon Vineyard for wine tasting with a view! 

What you'll love today
  • Gold mining history comes to life in Arrowtown
  • Stroll along the lake edge at Wanaka, it’s right outside your door
Your accommodation tonight

Day 15: Wanaka - Haast Pass - Franz Josef Glacier

Happy couple near Lake Wanaka - NZ Tour both islands

Today is a quintessential kiwi day, where else in the world can you visit the seaside, a rainforest and a glacier all in the same day?  In New Zealand, no worries!  We start off following the shores of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea before reaching the pristine mountain and river scenery of the Mount Aspiring National Park.  Then it’s up and over the Haast Pass through beech forests, past cascading waterfalls and clear blue pools where before following the Haast river out to the sea.  There’s plenty of time for short walks and photo stops on the way, we’re in no hurry! 

Once we hit the coast let’s head north through the lush, prehistoric Gondwanaland forest of the Southwest New Zealand World Heritage Area, stopping at Ship Creek to stroll the beach, keep your eye out for dolphins feeding in the shallows! More stops along the way as we hit glacier country, get your cameras ready for Lake Matheson’s famous reflections and our first glimpse of Fox Glacier descending from Mount Cook.  Our home for the next 2 nights is Franz Josef. 

What you'll love today
  • Where else in the world can you see a glacier, rainforest and the beach all in the same day?
  • Wake up by the lakeshore in Wanaka, go to sleep surrounded by rainforest in Franz Josef
Your accommodation tonight

Day 16: Franz Josef Glacier - Okarito Lagoon

Kayaking at Okarito Lagoon - NZ Tour both islands

We’ve got the whole day to enjoy the beauty of this remote corner of the country, a place many Kiwis don’t even get to visit. This is the best part of New Zealand to get to the glaciers, that’s why we’re here!  Your choice of a stunning walk to the terminal face of Franz Josef Glacier, or get right out on the ice on a heli hike or glacier landing. 

Everyone loves Okarito, a tiny settlement nestled between the Tasman Sea and Okarito Lagoon, take your pick from guided kayaking or a wildlife cruise on the shallow waters of the lagoon, a feeding ground of the extremely rare white heron (kotuku) which breeds nearby in the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve. For pure relaxation take a soak in hot pools fed by pure glacier water.  

What you'll love today
  • Franz Josef Glacier walks, heli hiking or glacier landing
  • There’s nowhere more ‘off the beaten track’ than secluded Okarito, breeding ground of the graceful White Heron
Your accommodation tonight

Day 17: Franz Josef Glacier - Hokitika - Punakaiki

Photo at the Hokitika driftwood sign on the beach - NZ Tour both islands

Discover, the ‘wild’ west coast of the South Island, we head north through countryside dotted with little lakes and boulder strewn rivers, all under the watchful eye of the mighty Southern Alps in the distance.  Coffee time in Hokitika, once a real centre of commerce and the setting for the colonial epic ’The Luminaries’.  Hokitika people are crafty folk and of course, it’s the Pounamu (greenstone) capital of the country and you’ll have the chance to visit the carvers as well as glass blowing, wood and copper artisans.

Our journey continues north to Paparoa National Park and Punakaiki, where our surroundings change dramatically, the alps have retreated and are replaced by towering limestone cliffs, draped with tropical looking forest, including New Zealand’s only native palm tree, the Nikau Palm. Punakaiki is home to the Pancake Rocks, sculpted limestone sea stacks and towering cliffs. Your ‘Kiwi Guide’ will let you know the perfect time to visit to see the blowholes at full force. Our home tonight is a stunning spot right on the beach, perfect a drink on the beach to celebrate our last sunset together! 

What you'll love today
  • Take a walk through ‘Luminaries’ land, Hokitika.
  • Toast your last Kiwi sunset with your friends on the beach at Punakaiki
Your accommodation tonight

Day 18: Punakaiki - Arthur’s Pass Christchurch

People relaxing in spectacular Arthur's Pass National Park - NZ Tour both islands

Wake up to the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach, cross New Zealand’s main divide, traverse the stunning Canterbury High Country and cross the plains into the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch.  To do this in most countries would take days or weeks, in New Zealand it’s easy, we’ve even got plenty on the way of time for short walks and photo stops.  Nice one, New Zealand!

Highlights will be the Otira Viaduct, a spectacular cantilevered road through towering mountains to Arthur’s Pass National Park, with dramatic views from the lookout at the top of the Gorge and one of the best places in the country to see the hilarious antics of our alpine parrot, the Kea.  Stretch your legs in the beech forests at Arthur’s Pass National Park and again at the massive limestone rocks rising out of bare pasture at Castle Hill before we descend Porter’s Pass to the Canterbury Plains reaching Christchurch in the late afternoon. 

What you'll love today
  • Wake up by the beach, cross the mountains and be in Christchurch by dinner time!
  • Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill) on the Great Alpine Highway, a real ‘power spot’
Your accommodation tonight

Day 19: Depart Christchurch

Punting on the river in beautiful Christchurch - NZ Tour both islands

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast on the last day of your tour in Christchurch, we'll drop you off at the airport for your flight home after your New Zealand ’Trip of a Lifetime'.

We’re right on the edge of Hagley Park, so take the time for one last walk through the botanical gardens, a scenic tram ride through the streets or even a punt on the treelined Avon River.  We call Christchurch the most English city outside England, and it’s easy to see why. Catch up on last minute shopping for New Zealand favourites such as merino clothing or manuka honey, it’s all right here. Thank you for choosing to travel with MoaTrek New Zealand Tours. Ka kite ano – “See you again”. 

What you'll love today
  • Check out the new Christchurch, the rebuild mall and cardboard cathedral
  • Swapping addresses and saying goodbye to the new friends you’ve made (a few tears are normal!)

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