Looking for something very special for your New Zealand "Trip of a Lifetime"? Our Kakapo tour is the ultimate New Zealand three week itinerary with all our favourite kiwi holiday spots bottled into one very special package.  We know you’re coming a long way and want to see and do as much as possible, just like everyone else who loved seeing the very best of both the North and South Islands on our signature tour.

Meet real Kiwis and hear their stories, marvel at one unbelievable view after another, see our unique and crazy wildlife up close, get out on the water and up in the air, savour the tastes of our fresh food and wine with new friends and at the end of each unforgettable day relax with all the comforts of home.

This is the new Kakapo 2018/19 season itinerary, see here for the upcoming 2017/18 season tour.

22 Night / 23 Day New Zealand Tour

Omapere on the Hokianga Harbour
Paihia in the Bay of Islands
Tongariro National Park
Abel Tasman National Park
Mount Cook
Milford Sound
Franz Josef Glacier
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Tour Price

MoaTrek Kakapo Icon
$10990 pp twin
$13490 pp single

Tour Map

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland

Yachting at sunset, Auckland Harbour - NZ 3 week itinerary

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 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’s West Coast - Northland Kauri Forest - Hokianga Harbour

Enjoying a summer evening, Hokianga Harbour - NZ 3 week itinerary

Your New Zealand adventure begins with a real local’s treat, Muriwai Beach on the West Coast, a Kiwi favourite. Follow your guide for a short stroll along the headland for stunning views of the Tasman Sea and gannet colony on the nearby clifftops.

From Muriwai we head for Northland, the "birthplace of the nation". Skirting the Kaipara Harbour we continue to the excellent Matakohe Kauri Museum to learn the history and significance of the mighty kauri tree. In the ancient Waipoua Kauri forest we meet our friends from Ngapuhi, the northernmost Maori tribe. Ngapuhi are the guardians of the Hokianga harbour where Kupe "the great navigator" became the first person to set foot on Aotearoa. We’re welcomed with a special "Karakia" from our hosts and then walk to the magnificent kauri tree "Tane Mahuta". We relax over dinner in our beachside accommodation with new friends.

What you'll love today
  • Tane Mahuta "Lord of the Forest" and its Ngapuhi guardians
  • Discover the expansive sand dunes of the Hokianga Harbour 

Day 3: Hokianga Harbour - Bay of Islands

Watching sandboarding in the Hokianga Harbour

Our day starts with a harbour cruise with another of our Ngapuhi friends, Pete (a real hard case!). He’ll tell you why all Kiwis have heard of Opononi and take us on our first foray off the beaten track, across the harbour for a walk along the deserted beach and for the adventurous, the chance to try sandboarding!

Northland is one of the narrowest spots in the North Island which makes for an easy day from the Hokianga to the Bay of Islands on the "other side". We’re in no rush, there’s time for plenty of stops along the way, like the famous Stone Store in Kerikeri, New Zealand’s oldest stone building. We’re now in the beautiful Bay of Islands, where we continue onto our home for the next two nights. From our hotel walk just across the lawn to the Waitangi Treaty House for our guided tour. You’re standing on the spot where in 1840 Maori chiefs and Queen Victoria’s representatives signed the treaty which gave birth to the nation.

What you'll love today
  • Walking on deserted Opononi beach all by yourselves. Sand boarding for the adventurous.
  • Birthplace of the nation, the Waitangi Treaty House and the beautiful Bay of Islands.

Day 4: Bay of Islands

Dolphin cruise Bay of Islands, 3 week NZ itinerary

Getting out on the pristine waters of the Bay of Islands is an absolute must! Take your pick from swimming with dolphins or a relaxed cruise to Cape Brett and the famous "Hole in the Rock". Whichever you choose, you’ll see why we loved coming on holiday here so much as kids and how two nights here is the perfect start to your tour.

Your fun on the water finishes at Russell (Kororareka), the very first capital of New Zealand, a small town with a rollicking 19th century past. It’s come a long way since it was a favourite haunt of whalers and sealers, with no police or laws you can imagine what went on! Visit the colonial buildings, walk the waterfront or climb Flagstaff Hill for spectacular views before the short ferry ride back to Paihia.  

What you'll love today
  • Get out on the water, swimming with dolphins or cruising the bays.
  • Discover idyllic and historic Russell, New Zealand’s first capital.

Day 5: Bay of Islands - Auckland

Kawiti Glowworm Caves Northland, 3 week NZ itinerary

Today’s another chance to get off the beaten track, one of the real advantages of travelling in a small group. Our first port of call are the Kawiti Glowworm Caves. The caves are named after the famous Maori chief of the area Kawiti and still belong to his family. His great grandson Te Tawai Kawiti showed the first visitors through the caves in the 1950s.

Glowworms are something most Kiwis grew up with but are surprised to learn that they’re extremely rare in other countries. The ancient limestone caves are home to millions of twinkling glowworms including the famous Milky Way cavern that you’ll learn all about from your friendly guide.

This afternoon we’ll head back to Auckland for the night, right in the heart of it all in the viaduct.

What you'll love today
  • Galaxies of glowworms at Kawiti Caves
  • Kawakawa Hundertwasser toilets (Why? Google them now!)
Your accommodation tonight

Day 6: Auckland - Rotorua

Sailing on Lake Rotoiti near Rotorua

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.

Near Te Puke, the Kiwifruit capital of the world, 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 7: Rotorua tours and activities

Happy people at Ohinemutu Maori village in Rotorua

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, a living Maori village. 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.

What you'll love today
  • Relax over a hosted lunch with David and Karen
  • Free time to enjoy the best of Rotorua's attractions and activities
Your accommodation tonight

Day 8: Rotorua - Tongariro National Park

Spectacular Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserve in Rotorua, 3 week itinerary

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.

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. The lunar landscape of the volcanic plateau is our next stop at 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 9: Tongariro National Park - Wellington

Silica rapids, volcanic landscape in Tongariro National Park

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 our capital Wellington. 

We stay two nights in Wellington as 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


  • Be wowed by the magnificent views of Mount Tongariro
  • Experience the beating heart of Wellington
Your accommodation tonight

Day 10: Wellington

View from Wellington Cable Car

The day is yours to enjoy, you are at the heart of all the action at The Bolton Hotel, a short walk to the waterfront, Te Papa National Museum and all the eateries and boutique breweries that Wellington is famous for.

Wellington is also the spiritual home of "The Lord of Rings" where you can visit Weta Workshop and see how all the props are made or drop into the Embassy theatre which hosted the world premier back in 2003.

What you'll love today
  • The very best of Wellington at your door
  • Explore New Zealand's National Museum Te Papa
Your accommodation tonight

Day 11: Wellington - Cook Strait Crossing - Picton - Blenheim - Nelson

Cruise ferry across Cook Strait, 3 week itinerary

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 Wines for tasting and lunch, right in the heart of the world famous Marlborough sauvignon blanc region.

From wine country we head 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 from the Hobbit movies. In Nelson relax and unpack, this is home for two 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 12: Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park

Walking on deserted beach Abel Tasman National Park

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 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. 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 13: Nelson - Kaikoura

Whale watching in Kaikoura
We return to Blenheim through Pelorus Bridge and Havelock and leave behind the dry hills of Marlborough for the Kaikoura Peninsula. The road hugs the rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the Kaikoura Ranges as we head south and the views are truly spectacular. Your afternoon is free to explore Kaikoura’s bountiful marine wildlife - a result of the ocean canyon close offshore. 
There are many optional excursions including the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway to whale watching cruises and flights. One of the many highlights is viewing the seal colony with a backdrop of the Kaikoura mountains and coastline.

*Due to long term road closures we will stay in Methven instead of Kaikoura until May 2018. We return to Kaikoura for the 2018/19 season.

What you'll love today
  • First views of the Southern Alps, playground for the rest of our journey
  • Kaikoura's famous marine life
Your accommodation tonight

Day 14: Kaikoura - Akaunui Homestead - Aoraki / Mt Cook

Group photo on the lawn at Akaunui homestead, Canterbury

Today’s journey takes us from the amazing Kaikoura Coast into the heart of the Southern Alps, leaving the coast we drive over the Hunderlee Hills to the Canterbury Plains. We stop for a special lunch at Akaunui, a 100-year-old farm homestead surrounded by large gardens, and dine on wonderful fresh produce straight from the vegetable garden of your hosts, Di and Ian Mackenzie. 

After lunch we continue on our journey through Burke's Pass to the spectacular Mackenzie Country for sweeping vistas of tussock lands and 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 Aoraki/Mt Cook "the Cloud Piercer"
Your accommodation tonight

Day 15: Aoraki/Mt Cook - Queenstown

Walking in Mount Cook

Start your day at Aoraki/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. 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
Your accommodation tonight

Day 16: Queenstown - Milford Sound

Tour group at Milford Sound airfield

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.  

On arrival at Milford cruise by launch 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
  • Take New Zealand’s most stunning road through the heart of Fiordland National Park
Your accommodation tonight

Day 17: Queenstown Activities and Day Tours

Jet boat tour on the Dart River Queenstown

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.  

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 TSS "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 18: Queenstown - Arrowtown - Wanaka

Drinks on the lawn, Lake Wanaka

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 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 19: Wanaka - Haast Pass - Franz Josef Glacier

Crossing a bridge near the Blue Pools, Wanaka

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 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 Aoraki/Mt Cook. Our home for the night 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 20: Franz Josef Glacier - Hokitika - Punakaiki

Landed on Franz Josef glacier

We’ve got the whole day to enjoy the beauty of this remote corner of the country. 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.

Discover, the "wild" West Coast as we head north through countryside dotted with little lakes and boulder strewn rivers, all under the watchful eye of the mighty Southern Alps. Coffee time in Hokitika, once a centre of commerce and the setting for the Man Booker Prize colonial epic ’The Luminaries’. Hokitika people are crafty folk and of course, it’s the Pounamu (greenstone) capital of the country. Arrive in Punakaiki this evening.

What you'll love today
  • Franz Josef Glacier walks, heli hiking or glacier landing
  • Take a walk through "Luminaries" land, Hokitika.
Your accommodation tonight

Day 21: Punakaiki Activities

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

Enjoy a full day to discover amazing limestone cliffs, draped with tropical looking forest, including New Zealand’s only native palm tree, the Nikau. Punakaiki is home to the Pancake rocks, sculpted limestone sea stacks and towering cliffs.

Your "Kiwi Guide" will help you with all your options including our favourites, the amazing Nile River glowworm caves. Our home tonight is a stunning spot right on the beach, perfect for a drink to celebrate our last sunset together!

What you'll love today
  • Discover the towering limestone cliffs, Pancake rocks and blowholes
  • Toast your last Kiwi sunset with your friends on the beach at Punakaiki
Your accommodation tonight

Day 22: Punakaiki - Arthur’s Pass - Christchurch

Walkers amongst limestone rock formations, Castle Hill in Canterbury

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

Highlights are the Otira Viaduct, a spectacular cantilevered road through towering mountains to Arthur’s Pass National Park. There are dramatic views from the lookout at the top of the Gorge and it's one of the best places to see the hilarious antics of our alpine parrot, the Kea. Stretch your legs in the beech forests at Arthur’s Pass 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
Your accommodation tonight

Day 23: Depart Christchurch

Glide along the river in beautiful Christchurch, 3 week itinerary

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".

Your hotel is 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. 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 architecture
  • Swapping addresses and saying goodbye to the new friends you’ve made

The friendly team at MoaTrek would love to chat

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