North to South Walks & Wonders
Highlights: Auckland | Cave Tour at Waitomo | Hobbiton | Waimangu Volcanic Valley Hike | Guided Tongariro Alpine Crossing | Wellington | Marlborough | Abel Tasman National Park | Queenstown
Discover the North and South Islands of New Zealand on this action packed two-week tour.
Beginning in Auckland, take your choice of activities from a Waiheke Island wine tour to a Maori cultural performance.
Then continue to Rotorua for the Waitomo Caves, Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Hobbiton movie set.
At Tongariro National Park you’ll conquer the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, after which you can treat yourself to a cool glass of white in the well-known Marlborough wine region.
Explore Abel Tasman National Park with a kayak tour between golden sand beaches, then end your trip with more choice of excursions in 'the adventure capital of the world', Queenstown..
Itinerary at a Glance
The below itinerary is only a suggestion, we offer tailor-made personal service and solutions to help you plan your perfect vacation. This itinerary is also available in the reverse direction.
Day 1 Arrive Auckland Welcome to New Zealand! Upon arrival at Auckland International Airport, be greeted by a representative holding a sign with your name on it and be transferred by private vehicle to your hotel. A guaranteed early check-in time has been organized for this morning, and a Bush and Beach Wilderness Experience awaits this afternoon. As part of a small group, you’ll leave behind the bustle of the city and step into the tranquility of the rainforest, witnessing breathtaking views of the Tasman Sea, traditional Maori carvings and New Zealand’s famous kauri trees. Moving on to explore the rugged and wild west coast, feel the black sand beneath your feet as you stroll along the ocean’s edge.
Day 2 Auckland – Today you have the choice of one of five tours Today you can personalize your Auckland experience by choosing one of these five tours, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories: 1. Waiheke Island Gourmet Food & Wine Tour Travel by ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island, Auckland’s food and wine neighbor just 12 miles away. Sample succulent New Zealand oysters, award-winning olive oil and other locally produced foods, all accompanied by wines from some of Waiheke’s top vineyards. Your guide will provide an entertaining and informative commentary as you go, and treats may include wild honey, the famous local green herb spread and artisan cheeses. A lunch platter at one of the area's top vineyard restaurants is included. 2. Explore the dramatic landscapes of the West Coast This small group eco tour to the Waitakere Ranges showcases the stunning beauty of Auckland’s wilder side. Visit dramatic landscapes with surf beaches and black sand, explore some of New Zealand's lush rain forests with ancient trees like the magnificent kauri tree and discover a hidden lake fringed by native bush and sand dunes. The tour includes a visit to a spectacular gannet colony, one of only three on mainland New Zealand (birds in residence approximately August to April). 3. Taste of Kumeu Wine & Food Tour The wineries of Kumeu date back to the 1930s, and some of New Zealand's most renowned wines are still going strong. Enjoy tastings at the award-winning Soljans Vineyard – which skillfully marries traditional with modern techniques to produce stylish, richly flavored wines – and a Mediterranean-style lunch at Soljans Winery restaurant. Take a break from wine tasting to see one of the few mainland gannet nesting sites in the world, then visit Matua Valley Wines and West Brook Winery. 4. Morning Guided Bike Tour of Auckland’s Waterfront / Afternoon America's Cup Sailing Experience This guided bike tour follows flat paths through the Viaduct Basin to the charming seaside community of Mission Bay. Relax, take a swim and enjoy light refreshments on the beach, then pedal back to Auckland for your sailing tour on Waitemata Harbour. Home to two of the America’s Cup races (the world’s oldest sporting trophy and ultimate yachting regatta), you’ll board a grand prix racer to take the helm, trim the grinders or sit back and enjoy the action. 5. Full Day Auckland Maori Culture & Sights Tour Experience Auckland’s fascinating Maori culture on a very personal small group tour to important historic sites. Learn how this unique living culture is an integral part of what Auckland and New Zealand has to offer, from its well-known cityscapes to its numerous volcanoes and the amazing West Coast. Finish with a visit to the Auckland Museum with its Maori and Polynesian Gallery. You can enjoy the Museum's Maori Cultural Performance to see a postural war dance (the haka) first-hand.
Day 3 Auckland to Rotorua (361km / 224mi) This morning, collect your rental car and drive through idyllic countryside to the Waitomo. It’s hard to believe that a hidden labyrinth of glowworm caves lies just beneath you, and once inside you’ll find formations and creatures that are simply out of this world. Afterwards, head onwards to the movie set of Hobbiton and The Shire. Duck into the hobbit holes and grab a drink at the Green Dragon Inn while learning the fascinating process of constructing the set. After your tour, continue to Rotorua.
Day 4 Exploring Rotorua Today we’ve included admission to Waimangu Volcanic Valley, an active area of Rotorua created by the Mt Tarawera eruption in 1886. Destroying the surrounding area and opening the earth along a 17-kilometre rift, it split Mt Tarawera itself in two, exploded Lake Rotomahana to 20 times its size and formed the seven craters that make up Waimangu Volcanic Valley. This nature walk showcases a wide range of geothermal activity, New Zealand plants and birdlife in one of the newest eco-systems in the world.
Day 5 Rotorua – Tongariro National Park (183kms / 107mi) Today is at leisure to drive from Rotorua to Whakapapa Village in the Tongariro National Park. Here you’ll check into your accommodation for the next two nights, Chateau Tongariro Hotel, which impresses with its grand architecture and interiors. Spend your afternoon playing the hotel’s nine-hole golf course or sitting back in the cinema – an exciting day awaits tomorrow!
Day 6 Tongariro National Park Your hotel sits at the doorstep of the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and today you’ll follow your guide to experience it! Starting at the Mangatepopo Valley, the first two hours of the trek is an upward gentle gradient to Soda Springs. From there it gets slightly steeper as it leads up to Mt Tongariro and Mt Mgauruhoe, but when you arrive at the South Crater (1650m) you’ll be able to take a break and get plenty of photos. The rest of the hike takes you to the famous Red Crater Summit (1882m), the Emerald Lakes for lunch and refreshments and the Mt Tongariro Summit (1967m). On the way back down the main track, enjoy sunset views of Mt Taranaki, which is 150kms away.
Day 7 Tongariro National Park to Wellington (337kms / 210mi) This morning you’ll travel through Bulls and Levin as well as the popular seaside resort communities of Waikanae and Paekakariki on your way to the capital city of Wellington. Entering through its hilly northern suburbs, you’ll check into the QT Museum Hotel for the night and spend the afternoon enjoying free admission to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.
Day 8 Wellington – Marlborough – Nelson Dropping your rental car at the Wellington Ferry Terminal, check into the Interislander Ferry as Premium Plus Lounge and wander the decks for views of the Marlborough Sounds. Inside, the Kaitaki Superior Club Lounge is all yours to enjoy. On arrival at the Picton Ferry Terminal, collect your luggage and your new South Island rental car for the 35-minute drive into Marlborough Wine Country The afternoon is at leisure to get to Nelson, a 90-minute drive away.
Day 9 Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park Grab your sunscreen and your suit, because today you’re going on a full day group kayak tour in Abel Tasman National Park. Drive one hour to Kaiteriteri Beach and meet your guide for the 9:30am Visa Cruise to Torrent Bay. When you arrive, a full training session and safety briefing is delivered before you go out on the water, discovering beautiful beaches, tidal estuaries and rivers as you go. Lunch is included at a sheltered cove mid-day, and then you can relax, explore or sunbathe on the yellow sand. If winds are favourable on the return journey the kayak sails will be hoisted and you’ll sail back to Torrent Bay, stopping at Pinnacle Island to view the seal colony, sea birds and possibly even penguins. The ferry from Torrent Bay Lodge arrives back at Kaiteriteri at 5:45pm.
Day 10 Nelson Nelson, Golden Bay and Nelson Lakes National Park are all yours to explore today, and you can do whatever you please. Nelson has a well-renowned Saturday Arts & Crafts Market (8am to 1pm), so it’s worth booking your dates to fall on a Friday night stay here.
Day 11 Nelson to Queenstown Return your rental car this morning at Nelson Airport and connect with your flight (not included) to Queenstown (flight not included in the package price).On your arrival into Queenstown, you will be met by our representative, assisted with your luggage and transferred by private vehicle to your accommodation.
Day 12 Queenstown – Today you have the choice of one of five Excursions
Today you can personalize your Queenstown experience by choosing one of these five tours, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories:
1. Full Day Milford Sound Coach/Nature Cruise/Coach
Travel by coach from Queenstown to Milford Sound through sheer mountains, towering cliffs, rugged valleys and native rain forest. Once at Milford Sound board a catamaran for a leisurely cruise along the fiord, learning from the onboard Nature Guide, visiting the skipper in the wheelhouse or viewing wildlife like dolphins, seals and penguins. Lunch options are available for purchase (must be preordered) and complimentary tea and coffee is provided. After the cruise, return to Queenstown by coach.
Milford Sound Return Flight Upgrade (Approx $395 PP)
Upgrade your itinerary to include a return scenic flight to Queenstown. See magnificent views of the alps, glaciers, lakes and forests of Fiordland National Park from the air – it’s a quick and convenient way to return to Queenstown.
The flight shaves approximately 4 hours off a return by coach, however it is very weather dependent so it’s possible you will need to return by coach and have the upgraded price refunded to you. 2. Half Day Boutique Wine Tour Spend an afternoon among the boutique vineyards and spectacular scenery of Central Otago. Enjoy tastings at four wineries in the Gibbston Valley, Cromwell and Bannockburn regions plus a delightful platter-style lunch at Carrick Winery Restaurant. Visit historic Old Cromwell Town (time and weather permitting) and take a stunning drive through the Kawarau Gorge to learn about the early pioneering history of the region and see the historic Kawarau Bridge and the original AJ Hackett Bungy jump. 3. Sheep Station to Sheep Station Cycle Tour & Walter Peak BBQ Lunch Experience Queenstown’s surrounds with a cycle tour. Boarding a Spirit of Queenstown cruise to Mt Nicholas High Country Farm, disembark on the other side of Lake Wakatipu to begin your cycling journey. Ride at your own pace along a quiet country road, taking in views of the Southern Alps, Glenorchy and The Remarkables on the way. After cycling 14 kilometers (1.5 hours) to Walter Peak you’ll enjoy a barbecue lunch, then board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw to return to Queenstown. 4. Walter Peak High Country Farm Excursion / Shotover Jetboat Ride Step aboard the TSS Earnslaw and enjoy a 40-minute cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station. On arrival, wander through gardens or enjoy tea/coffee in the Colonel’s Homestead, then take a tour of the grounds to view sheep, red deer and Scottish Highland cattle. Highlights of the experience are watching the farm demonstrator shear a sheep, sheep dogs working stock and a wool spinning demonstration. Take the TSS Earnslaw back to Queenstown, then transfer by coach to the Shotover River for the jet boat ride of your life. 5. Half Day Wilderness Safari - Jetboat & Forest Walk Combine wilderness jet boating with a guided walk and back-country drive. Surrounded by breathtaking snow-covered peaks, hidden valleys, waterfalls and glacial valleys, you’ll take a thrilling jet boat through the ever-changing shallow channels of the Dart River’s braided system. Enjoy a guided walk through ancient native Beech forest where you’ll be fascinated by the unique flora and fauna, then journey by bus along a back-country route. Your driver will stop to view some of New Zealand’s most spectacular scenery and will share stories of the land on the way.
Day 13 Queenstown – Today you have the choice of one of two Full Day Guided Walks Today you can personalize your Queenstown experience by choosing one of these two Hikes, all sure to leave you with lifelong memories: 1. Full Day Aspiring Wilderness Experience Combine walking through ancient beech forest in Mount Aspiring National Park with the Dart River Jet Safari. Today's full day adventure begins as you travel to the start of your guided walk through one of the most scenic high mountain big river valleys in New Zealand. The only way to master the shallow glacial waters of the Southern Alps is by the Kiwi innovation that revolutionised high-country transport - the jet boat! Enjoy this unique journey with frequent stops where your jet boat driver will explain the geology and lore of the ancient and unspoiled lands. Two fascinating hours and 35 kilometres later, your guide will meet you at a secret spot on the banks of the Dart River and lead you on a gentle ascent under a canopy of native beech forest, where birdsong supplies an unrivaled, natural soundtrack. Stop for a delicious picnic lunch on the shores of the forest and mountain framed waters of Lake Sylvan, joined by local birdlife such as Bush Robins, Fantails and Tomtits. Lake Sylvan teems with native trout and the most attractive species of geese and ducks when in season. Winding back from the lake the track ambles through to the Routeburn, flowing down the very edge of the forest where you will join your vehicle for your transfer back to Queenstown. 2. Full Day Famous Routeburn Track Travel northwest on a road that clings to the very edge of the lake, your guide will introduce you to the history and landscape of the region. From time to time, the road rises to superb vantage points for unparalleled panoramas of jagged, snow-capped mountains, rolling alpine farmland and acre upon acre of glorious tussock meadows. Embark on this great walk in Mount Aspiring National Park with a gradual ascent, through 130 million year old magical world of ferns, mosses, lichens and beech forest. After walking for approximately 2.5 hours, the woodland parts to reveal the rich grassland of Routeburn Flats, overlooked on all sides by cloud-scraping mountains, some so high they have permafrost. Stop here for a delicious Kiwi style picnic lunch before heading back and enjoying the valley in reverse. Explore forgotten paths of the Maori, as you travel along their old greenstone trails, finding new enchantment around each corner and enjoy the array of bird species will accompany your journey back to civilization.
Day 14 Depart Queenstown Today marks the end of your journey as you’re collected from your accommodation and transferred by private vehicle to Queenstown Airport. On behalf of Southern World and Discover Holidays, we hope you’ve had a wonderful vacation in New Zealand and that you return again soon.
- 2 nights of accommodation at Chateau Tongariro Hotel, Whakapapa - Superior Room
- 1 night of accommodation at QT Museum Hotel, Wellington - Executive King Studio (Includes: Breakfast)
- 3 nights of accommodation at The Waters, Nelson – Double Room
(Includes: Continental breakfast provisions & bottle of wine)
- 3 nights of accommodation at The Rees Queenstown Hotel - Hotel Executive Lake View Room
- Private Auckland Airport meet & greet with transfer to your hotel
- Bush and Beach Wilderness Experience in the Waitakere Ranges
In Auckland, the freedom to choose 1 of 5 Excursions
- Waiheke Island Gourmet Food & Wine Tour
(Includes: Return ferry to Waiheke Island, Waiheke ferry terminal pick up and drop off, platter lunch and tastings)
- Day Tour of Auckland’s West Coast
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Picnic Lunch)
- Afternoon Taste of Kumeu Wine and Food Tour
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, 3 wine tastings, vineyard lunch with a glass of wine)
- Morning Guided Bike Tour of Auckland’s Waterfront / Afternoon America's Cup Sailing Experience
(Includes: Private guide, bike, helmet, cable lock, souvenir map, light refreshments, life jackets)
- Auckland’s fascinating Maori Cultural Performance & City Sights
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, snacks, refreshments and lunch, Auckland Museum and Maori Cultural Performance)
- Waiheke Island Gourmet Food & Wine Tour
- Admission to Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
- Admission to Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
- Admission to Waimangu Volcanic Valley
- 8 Day rental car from Auckland to Wellington (Intermediate SUV) including insurance & GPS
- Guided Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Admission to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand
- Interislander Ferry Premium Plus Lounge
- Beaches, bays & seals kayaking trip with lunch
In Queenstown, the freedom to choose 1 of 5 Excursions
- Full Day Milford Sound Coach/Nature Cruise/Coach
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Milford Sound Nature Cruise)
- Half Day Boutique Wine Tour
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, wine tasting at 4 wineries and platter style lunch)
- Sheep Station to Sheep Station Cycle Tour & Walter Peak BBQ Lunch (Includes: One-way Spirit of Queenstown cruise and one-way TSS Earnslaw cruise, Walter Peak BBQ lunch, bicycle and bicycle helmet and cycle map)
- Shotover Jetboat Ride & Walter Peak High Country Farm Excursion
(Includes: Coach transfer to shotover Jet, Earnslaw cruise, high country life farm tour & tea/coffee and home baking)
- Half Day Wilderness Safari - Jetboat & Forest Walk
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off)
- Full Day Milford Sound Coach/Nature Cruise/Coach
In Queenstown, the freedom to choose 1 of 2 Full Day Guided Walks
- Full Day Aspiring Wilderness Experience
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, Dart River Jet, refreshments and lunch)
- Full Day Famous Routeburn Track
(Includes: Hotel pick-up/drop-off, walking poles, refreshments and lunch)
- Full Day Aspiring Wilderness Experience
- International or domestic airfares (unless specified above).
- Meals other than specified above.
- Travel insurance.