New Zealand Family Adventure
Highlights: Auckland | Waitomo Caves | Hobbiton Movie Set | Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Valley | Abel Tasman National Park | Swimming with Dolphins or Whale Watching Cruise | Queenstown
Pack up the family and clear plenty of space on your camera for this awe-inspiring adventure through New Zealand.
Beginning in Auckland you’ll pick up your rental car and take off towards Rotorua, where the Waitomo Caves, Hobbiton movie set and geothermal wonders await.
The second half of the journey brings you largely to the water, namely to Abel Tasman National Park and Kaikoura where you can swim with dolphins or go whale watching.
After flying into Queenstown you’ll take your pick of one of five excursions, then the following day enjoy the thrills of town entirely at your leisure .
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 into Auckland, enjoy a private transfer to your hotel in the heart of the Central Business District. A guaranteed early check-in time has been organized for this morning. Spend the afternoon enjoying the fashionable viaduct and vibrant marina areas, then take the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. If time permits, catch the complimentary shuttle to Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium and discover more than 30 exhibits featuring over 80 different species. In this topsy-turvy attraction, sharks and stingrays will swim over and around you as you walk through transparent tunnels.
Day 2 Auckland to Rotorua (361km / 224mi) This morning, collect your rental car and drive through idyllic countryside to the Waitomo Caves. 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 on to Rotorua.
Day 3 Exploring Rotorua Today we’ve included admission to Wai-O-Tapu: a geothermal wonderland loved by both the young and young at heart. Wai-O-Tapu means 'Sacred Water' in Maori, and you’ll see exactly why as you peruse hot pools ranging in colour from turquoise blue and rich green to gold and an almost olive tone. This dazzling kaleidoscope of natural colours is caused by the many mineral salts in the water, including arsenic, gold and silver. Wai-O-Tapu is also the home to steaming vents, huge volcanic craters, the world-famous Champagne Pool and New Zealand’s largest bubbling mud pool – but the real highlight has to be the Lady Knox Geyser. Erupting with spectacular flair every day at about 10:15am, it will delight your kids and make for some great photo ops. The rest of the day is free to explore the many attractions of Rotorua.
Day 4 Rotorua to Nelson (Flight) This morning drop your vehicle off at the airport in Rotorua and catch your flight (not included) into Nelson, a stunning seaside town and gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. Nelson is home to diverse communities that have blossomed on rich land in a Mediterranean climate. It is a true lifestyle destination based on adventure, art and nature, and you’ll pick up your new rental car here.
Day 5 Nelson - Abel Tasman National Park Cruise Today you’ll cruise into the heart of Abel Tasman National Park, a wilderness reserve known for its walking tracks and wildlife. Disembark at idyllic Medlands Beach in Bark Bay and walk to the long golden-sand beach of Anchorage via Torrent Bay. The track will have you weaving through sunny groves of Manuka and fern between breathtaking views of the granite coast and lush gullies of mature forest. Today’s cruise is a must on any New Zealand itinerary.
Day 6 Nelson to Kaikoura (243 km / 150mi) This morning head south east through Marlborough, famous for its food and wine, then head south to Kaikoura, where the road is dominated by the awesome beauty of the Pacific Coast. Kaikoura, located in a narrow strip of stunning coastline between mountain peaks and the Pacific Ocean, is a place of unparalleled wildlife experiences.
Day 7 Kaikoura to Christchurch (181km / 112mi) This morning you have a choice of two sightseeing options, both sure to leave you with lifelong memories:
Option 1: A chance to swim with adorable dusky dolphins! These playful dolphins reside in Kaikoura’s coastal waters year-round, and pods of 100 dolphins or more are common. Get into the water and watch with delight as the dolphins swim, leap and play around you.
Option 2: Embark on a whale watching cruise to see giant sperm whales in action. While these year-round residents are always the star of the show, a typical tour can also include New Zealand Fur Seals, pods of dusky dolphins and the endangered Wandering Albatross. Depending on the season, you may also see migrating humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales.
Then this afternoon continue south and head inland into sheep country of North Canterbury and the city of Christchurch.
Day 8 Christchurch to Queenstown (Flight) This morning you’ll drop your vehicle off at the airport in Christchurch and catch your flight (not included) into Queenstown where the next rental car awaits. Waiting to greet you are the majestic Remarkables Ranges and Lake Wakatipu, so keep an eye out as you get closer to see them glistening from below. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand, and is the place where bungy jumping began and where sledging and jet boating found their fame. So from white water rafting and horseback riding to mountain biking and hiking, let’s just put it this way: if it can be done in New Zealand, you can probably find it in Queenstown.
Day 9 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 10 Queenstown at Leisure We’ve left today free so you can explore Queenstown at your leisure. Walk along the tranquil shores of Lake Wakatipu or take a scenic bike ride on the beautiful trails.
Day 11 Depart Queenstown It’s now the end of your magical New Zealand adventure. Dropping your rental car off at the airport one final time, you’ll catch your outbound flight and begin the journey home.
- Private transfer from Auckland Airport to your accommodation
- 1 night of accommodation at CityLife Apartments, Auckland – Two Bedroom Suite
- 2 nights of accommodation at Regent of Rotorua Hotel, Rotorua – Two Bedroom Suite
- 2 nights of accommodation at Rutherford Hotel, Nelson – Premium Room
- 1 night of accommodation at White Morph Motor Inn, Kaikoura – Family Apartment
- 1 night of accommodation Rydges Latimer Hotel, Christchurch – Two Bedroom Suite
- 3 nights of accommodation at Scenic Suites Hotel, Queenstown – Two Bedroom Suite with View
- 3 Day rental car from Auckland to Rotorua (full size) including insurance & GPS
- 4 Day rental car from Nelson to Christchurch (full size) including insurance & GPS
- 3 Day rental car Queenstown (full size SUV) including insurance & GPS
- Auckland Airport transfer to hotel
- Admission to Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
- Admission to Hobbiton Movie Set Tour
- Admission to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Valley
- Abel Tasman National Park Swing Bridge, Bush & Beach Cruise
- In Kaikoura, a choice of either swimming with dolphins or a whale watching cruise
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
- International or domestic airfares (unless specified above).
- Meals other than specified above.
- Travel insurance.
New Zealand Family Adventure
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