Experience country life and leisurely touring on this small group tour traveling from the North to South Islands of New Zealand. In the North Island explore the beautiful Bay of Islands, enjoy the warmth of Maori culture at Rotorua and explore the volcanic Tongariro National Park.

In the South Island relax on the golden beaches of the Abel Tasman National Park before encountering the magnificent alpine scenery of Mount Cook and Fiordland’s Milford Sound.

We have made some small but exciting new improvements to our itinerary for departures from October 2018, the itinerary on this page is for our Kakariki 18 day tour from October 2018, for anyone looking at the tour for dates until the end of April 2018 here's a quick overview of your itinerary.

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17 Night / 18 Day New Zealand North and South Island Tour

Auckland
Omapere on the Hokianga Harbour
Paihia in the Bay of Islands
Auckland
Rotorua
Tongariro National Park
Wellington
Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park
Kaikoura
Mount Cook
Queenstown
Milford Sound
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Tour Price

MoaTrek Kakariki Icon

2017 / 2018 Season

$8990.00 pp twin
$11190.00 pp single
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Tour Map

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland

Yacht on Auckland harbour - NZ Tour North & South 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’s West Coast - Northland Kauri Forest - Hokianga Harbour

Tour Group at Tane Mahuta, Northland

Your New Zealand adventure begins with a real local’s treat, Muriwai Beach on the West Coast, a real 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. The perfect launch pad as we continue into the ancient Waipoua Kauri forest to meet our friends from Ngapuhi, the northern most Maori tribe in New Zealand. Ngapuhi are the guardians of the most symbolic places in the New Zealand story, the Hokianga harbour, the spot where Kupe 'the great navigator’ ended his epic voyage to become the first human being to set foot on land in Aotearoa, and the magnificent kauri tree 'Tane Mahuta’ in Maori legend, which represents the creation of the universe, where the sky father ‘Rangi’ and earth mother ‘Papa’ were prised apart to bring light to the world.  We’re welcomed with a special ‘Karakia’ from our hosts before relaxing over dinner in our beachside accommodation for the night amongst new friends.

What you'll love today
  • Tane Mahuta ‘Lord of the Forest’ and it’s Ngapuhi guardians
  • Hokianga Harbour – the last place on the planet discovered by mankind

Day 3: Hokianga Harbour - Bay of Islands

Hokianga harbour views from the sand dunes

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 whole 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, so 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 2 nights, Paihia. 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 of New Zealand.

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

Dolphins next to our boat in the Bay of Islands

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.  After soaking up all the unique history of the area and marvelling at the crystal clear water and ‘Pacific’ blue sky, you know you’re in New Zealand now!

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

Glowworms in Kawiti Caves - NZ Tour North & South Island

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, a one-two punch of scenic beauty and Maori history.  The caves are named after the famous Maori chief of the area, Kawiti, and still belong to his family, after great grandson Te Tawai Kawiti showed the first visitors through the caves in the 1950s.  Our guide through the caves will be one of the descendants of Kawiti too.

Glowworms are something most Kiwis grew up with, but are surprised to learn that they’re extremely rare in other countries.  In the glowworm world, New Zealand is the centre of the universe! The ancient limestone caves are home to millions of twinkling glowworms including the famous Milky Way cavern, you’ll learn all about them 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

Relaxing on the deck of the yacht, Lake Rotoiti Sailing

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 7: Rotorua tours and activities

Group outside meeting house, Ohinemutu Village Rotorua - NZ Tour North & South Island

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.

 

What you'll love today
  • Explore the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua
  • Relax over a hosted lunch at New Zealand’s only buried village
Your accommodation tonight

Day 8: Rotorua - Tongariro National Park

Guide and visitors at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland

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 9: Tongariro National Park - Wellington

Waterfall photo 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
  • World Heritage Tongariro National Park
  • All the best sights of Wellington right on your doorstep
Your accommodation tonight

Day 10: Explore Wellington

Aerial view of stunning Wellington harbour - NZ Tour North & South Islands

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
  • Discover the heart of Wellington, all within walking distance
  • Wellington's vibrant restaurant scene
Your accommodation tonight

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

Wine tasting and outside lunch in Marlborough

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 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 12: Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park

Dolphins right by the boat in Abel Tasman - NZ Tour North & South 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 13: Nelson - Kaikoura

Mountain and ocean photo at 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
  • Stretch your legs with a walk on the Kaikoura Peninsula for the best views in town
Your accommodation tonight

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

Small tour group photo at Lake Pukaki Mt Cook

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.

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 15: Aoraki/Mt Cook - Queenstown

Walking in sunshine at Mt Cook

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. 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
  • Enjoy the bustling scene of Queenstown for three nights
Your accommodation tonight

Day 16: Queenstown - Milford Sound

Cruising Milford Sound - NZ Tour North & South Island

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 17: Queenstown Activities and Day Tours

Happy team on the Dart River jetboat - NZ Tour North & South 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 18: Depart Queenstown

Earnslaw steamship on the lake, Queenstown - NZ Tour North & South Islands

This morning relax over a leisurely breakfast before being picked up from your hotel for transfer to the airport for your flight home after your memorable tour. Thank you for choosing to travel with MoaTrek Tours. Ka kite ano - "See you again".

What you'll love today

Free time to take in those amazing views one more time

Looking back on your wonderful adventures over the last 18 days

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