New Zealand North & South
Experience the vibrant cultural heritage of the Māori and the geothermal activity of Rotorua, relax in luxury on a cruise on Lake Rotoiti; explore volcanic landscape of Tongariro National Park; and enjoy wine tours in the Wairarapa and Marlborough regions. Soak up the serenity of the Fiordland on an overnight boat tour in Doubtful Sound, and get an adrenaline rush in Queenstown, the adventure sport capital of the country.
Best time to visit: February-May, September-November
Ideal for: Active Couples and Families
Day 1 – Arrive & Explore Auckland
Arrive in Auckland in the morning after an overnight flight across the International Date Line. Settle into your hotel near the center of this multicultural city with exciting cuisine and rich Polynesian heritage. Rest up and refresh, and then take a stroll along the picturesque waterfront of Mission Bay, visit the Domain Wintergardens, or get a panoramic view over the city from Sky Tower.
Day 2 – Visit Waitomo Caves
Depart Auckland for a private tour of the Waitomo Caves en route to Rotorua, a hotspot of geothermal activity. Drive through the scenic countryside of Waikato and King Country before touring the extensive cave system, which features an underground stream and thousands of luminescent glow-worms. Continue to Rotorua after your tour.
Day 3 – Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Tour
Bubbling mud pits, spouting geysers, and vibrant Māori traditions make Rotorua a crux of cultural heritage and natural splendor. Take a guided tour at Te Puia and then explore the neighboring Whakarewarewa and Wai-O-Tapu thermal reserves to soak in hot springs and attend a Māori hāngi—a feast and performance—to end the evening.
Or take a journey through the real-world realm of J.R.R Tolkien on a guided tour of the 12-acre Lord of the Rings Hobbiton movie set. Spread across the rolling hills of the Alexander family sheep farm, the movie set is an intricate and magical accoutrement to an already majestic landscape. Stroll among Hobbit holes, stop into the Green Dragon for a drink where Tolkien’s masterful series came to life.
Day 4 – Rotorua Flightseeing & Lake Rotoiti Cruise
Take a tour aboard a small aircraft that will take you gliding past the cliffs of the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, over lakes, and to the summit of the dormant crater of Mt. Tarawera. Make a water landing and spend the afternoon sailing aboard a luxury catamaran on the clear waters of Lake Rotoiti. Help sail the yacht, swim through caves, access private thermal pools, and sail into hidden coves and bays before enjoying a classic New Zealand BBQ.
Or take a 3-hour tour through the canopy of an ancient forest along a network of ziplines, swing bridges, and treetop platforms suspended up to 70 feet in the air. For those looking to relax in lieu of a burst of adrenaline, enjoy a soothing soak at a renowned lakefront mineral spa with more than 2 dozen hot springs to choose from.
Day 5 – Drive to Tongariro National Park
Drive about 2 ½ hours south to Tongariro National Park, where three active volcanoes—Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro—dominate the landscape. The park boasts dual UNESCO World Heritage status recognizing its volcanic landscape and the area’s Māori cultural and spiritual heritage. Settle into your lodge in the heart of the park, with the afternoon free to explore the area.
Day 6 – Volcanic Explorer Tour
Spend this morning exploring the park on your own, choosing from a number of walks near your hotel. In the afternoon, go for a guided half-day trekking excursion along the park’s most celebrated track, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Discover the geology of past eruptions, unique flora and fauna, and an array of geothermal wonders along the slopes of all three volcanoes. Hike along the rushing waters of the Whakapapa Nui River, Taranaki Falls, and Silica Rapids to the steaming pools of Soda Springs.
Day 7 – Wairarapa Wine Region
Transfer to Taupo for a short flight to Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, and drive out into the Wairarapa wine region to the east of the city. Settle into a luxurious rural estate near the coast and discover this picturesque landscape of rolling pasture and vineyards. Biking and hiking trails lace the hills, and make this region a perfect stop for outdoor enthusiasts and food and wine connoisseurs alike.
Day 8 – Farming and Fine Food in Wairarapa
Get a feel for New Zealand’s agricultural heritage with a tour of a working sheep station. Sheep shearing demonstrations, sheep dogs in action, and a slew of other events bring the country’s rural legacy to life. Pair this glimpse of farm life with a food and wine tour to get a taste of the region’s epicurean refinement.
Day 9 – Marlborough Wine Country
Return to Wellington to take the inter-island ferry to Picton, and then drive to the town of Blenheim, the gateway to the Wairau Valley in Marlborough wine country. Settle into your countryside hotel and then cycle or stroll along Rapaura’s golden mile of vineyards. Cycle along the country lanes of the Renwick Cycle Route and immerse yourself in the laid-back lifestyle of Marlborough, a land of delicious food, wine, and amazing scenery.
Day 10 – Marlborough & Queen Charlotte Sound
Enjoy a leisurely morning visiting two of Marlborough’s icon wineries to sample the award winning wines of the region, and then transfer to the nearby Havelock Marina. Enjoy a nice lunch right on the waterfront at the Slip Inn Café before embarking on a cruise through the Marlborough Sounds. Visit a Greenshell Mussel farm and learn the intricacies of growing this New Zealand delicacy, and then settle into your resort for the night on Queen Charlotte Sound.
Day 11 – Tramping on the Queen Charlotte Track
Begin the day on a cruise through Queen Charlotte Sound to Ship Cove, a favorite anchorage of European explorer Captain James Cook, and the start of the Queen Charlotte Track. Go for a hike with a knowledgeable guide though virgin forest on your way to Endeavor Inlet, learning about native plants and wildlife and the layered history of the region. Walk options along this premier portion of the track range from 2 to 5 hours in length, and offer incredible views over the Sounds.
Day 12 – Drive to Punakaiki
Return to Havelock by boat and then drive about 4 hours to your boutique resort near Punakaiki on the island’s western coast, a region known for its unique rock formations and blowholes. Ideally situated between Paparoa National Park and the Tasman Sea, you can explore this wild and majestic landscape on horseback, guided hikes, whitewater rafting, or canoeing.
Day 13 – Punakaiki and Pancake Rocks
Spend today exploring the region. Visit the Pancake Rocks, formed 30 million years ago on the seafloor before being pushed to the surface and worn by wind and water into striated towers. Enjoy a number of short walks to see the formations, or pack a picnic and go for a full-day walk along the Punakaiki Rocks, beaches, and native rainforest.
Day 14 – Franz Josef & Lake Wanaka
Drive from Punakaiki to the Franz Josef Glacier, about 3 hours south, and take to the skies on an exhilarating Heli-hike. Stretching more than 7 miles, with pinnacles of ice towering like multi-story buildings, getting an aerial view of the glacier gives a true sense of scale before you touch down to hike. A professional guide will take you trekking through this ancient world of powdery blue ice, where otherwise only the most experienced mountaineers could explore. Afterwards, drive south to Lake Wanaka.
Day 15 – Relax on the Shores of Lake Wanaka
This lakeside resort town is the perfect place to recharge, or to enjoy an endless array of outdoor activities. Take a boat cruise on Lake Wanaka and go for a nature walk in Mou Waho Island Nature Reserve at the center of the lake, or explore the area hiking, canyoning, or mountain biking. Relax along the pristine waters of Lake Wanaka with views of Mount Aspiring National Park, or enjoy an afternoon at a wine tasting.
Day 16 – Overnight Cruise in Doubtful Sound
This morning, drive to Manapouri where you will embark on an overnight cruise through the spectacular beauty of Fiordland on a small, 12-passenger yacht. Surrounded by rugged peaks and lush rainforest, and home to abundant marine life like bottlenose dolphins and fur seals, Doubtful Sound is a landscape of irrepressible splendor. Enjoy a tranquil evening and spend tomorrow cruising on the Sound before traveling to Queenstown.
Day 17 – Discover the Wild Side of Queenstown
Return to port after a day on the water and drive to Queenstown, a city spread along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, where adventure sports reign supreme. Spend an adrenaline filled day bungee jumping off Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, hang gliding, or mountain biking, and then enjoy a bar and restaurant scene that proves that Queenstown knows how unwind and kick back as well.
Day 18 – Mount Aspiring National Park
Take a thrilling journey into the heart of Mount Aspiring National Park on the Dart River Wilderness Jet Safari. Cruise through breathtaking scenery on glacier-fed rivers, learn about Māori history in the region, and hike through the ancient forests that featured as a setting in parts of the Lord of the Rings movies.
Day 19 – Backcountry in Skippers Canyon
Join a backcountry tour along a 4WD track through Skippers Canyon, precipitous terrain carved by the Shotover River, which was once a rich gold mining region. Just a short drive from Queenstown, Skippers Canyon is its own enchanting world, an awe-inspiring and unforgettable landscape. Head back for one more night out around Queenstown before flying home in the morning.
Day 20 – Departure
Fly home from Queenstown today.
Remarkable Journeys has partnered with Lost World Adventures to create this journey. We partnered with Lost World due to their well-mannered relationships with tour guides, hotellers, airlines, and ground management services in the region. In our opinion, they offer the best value and experience in the region.
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