Arrive at Auckland Airport on Day 1, transfer to your accommodation and settle in. Visit the Waitomo Caves on Day 2 to marvel at shimmering glow worms. Set foot on the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie sets on Day 3. Visit Taupo on Day 4 and Napier on Days 5-6 for a fun-filled wine-tasting afternoon. Continue your trip to Wellington on Days 7-8 with free time to explore the city. Arrive to Nelson on Days 9-10 for a relaxing sailing trip on the pristine waters of the Abel Tasman followed by a nature walk to Marahau along sandy beaches. Travel to Franz Josef on Days 11-12 and embark on a Glacier Valley Walk along the mighty Waiho River with spectacular views of the glacier (you will not walk directly on the ice). Reach Queenstown on Days 13-15 for a peaceful cruise through the dramatic and breathtaking Milford Sound and free time. Reach Christchurch on Day 16 for your last night. Your trip will come to an end on Day 17 with an airport drop-off.
Day by Day Itinerary:
Day 01: Auckland Airport Pick-up
As you arrive at Auckland Airport you will be transferred to your accommodation for check-in. Enjoy the rest of the day to settle in this beautiful city.
Day 02: Waitomo Glowworm Experience to Rotorua
Leaving Auckland in the morning we travel through the Waikato and King Country regions, passing by flourishing farmland and picturesque countryside. Your experienced local driver guide will provide entertaining commentary and point out highlights along the way, such as Rangiriri, where in 1863 a major battle was fought between colonial forces and those loyal to the Māori King.
On arrival in the small town of Waitomo, you'll meet your knowledgeable local guide, who will give you a tour of the caves including commentary on their fascinating geological and cultural history. Experience a 45-minute guided tour through the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves, a series of limestone caves formed over 30 million years ago. Learn all about stalagmites, stalactites and other intriguing rock formations as you walk through the caverns, and finish the tour with an enchanting boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto, illuminated by thousands of tiny glowworms spread across the ceiling like a blanket of stars. This peaceful and magical experience is hard to beat. You will emerge into a picturesque setting of native New Zealand bush before following a short trail back up to the Waitomo Caves visitor complex.
Here you can take in the views and enjoy lunch (at own expense), before returning to Rotorua. On arrival check-in your new accommodation and overnight.
Day 03: Hobbiton Experience
Today you will make your way to the designated meeting point to be picked up and travel to the Waikato region of New Zealand's North Island, and immerse yourself in the rural Kiwi town of Matamata. Here you will find the famous Hobbiton movie set, known for its dramatic views of picturesque countryside and the Kaimai Ranges, where the award-winning films of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed by Sir Peter Jackson.
Visit this magical movie set and pristine countryside of The Shire, which was created on the grounds of an actual beef and sheep farm. Take a guided tour through beautiful landscapes and hobbit homes where Pippin, Merry, Sam, Frodo and Bilbo came to life. Peek into hobbit holes and explore many of the sets and structures like the Mill and the Green Dragon Inn which were created specifically for these two famous films. Learn about the complex process of transforming farmland into Middle-Earth.
At the end of the tour you will return to Rotorua, you will be dropped-off at the meeting point and have the rest of the afternoon at leisure. Overnight in Rotorua.
Day 04: Rotorua to Taupo
Today you travel from Rotorua to Taupo (approx 1 hr) where you will have the full day to explore this awesome town on your own. There is no shortage of activities on offer in Taupo, be it an adrenaline rush or the more sedate - there is something for everyone! From the ever popular Bungy to Taupo being internationally known as a mecca for adventure activities like Skydiving to Jet Boating and Scenic Flights to Taupo's AC Baths. Check out Taupo's one and only Starlight Cinema! Overnight in Taupo.
Day 05: Taupo to Napier
Today you will travel to Napier, the main 'port' city of the Hawke's Bay region. Razed by earthquake and fire in 1931, Napier has one of the largest concentrations of Art Deco buildings in the world. Napier has many tourist attractions and travel activities with something to suit all ages, tastes and budgets. From adrenaline-pumping adventure to a relaxing day out, you will never be bored in Napier. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to take advantage of the city and its many activities, and overnight.
Day 06: Hawke's Bay Wine Tour
Today, you will be picked-up from your accommodation to join a fun filled wine tasting afternoon in the sun driving through absolutely stunning scenery. Meet like-minded people and share an appreciation of this region's fantastic wine. We will visit four to five wineries and enjoy a cheese platter in the grounds of Ngatarawa Vineyard beside the lily pond. You will taste around 30 different wines including the main varieties, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as Pinot Gris, Viognier and the lesser known aromatics such as Gewurztraminer and Riesling. After the tour you will be dropped-off at your Napier accommodation for overnight.
Day 07: Napier to Wellington
Today you will travel from Napier to the capital of New Zealand, Wellington. This trip takes approximately 5 hours. Check-in and overnight in Wellington.
Day 08: Wellington Free Day
Today is free to explore Wellington: enjoy what the vibrant city has to offer from world class restaurants to classy & trendy cafes and bar, and discover its many landmarks and attractions. Visit Te Papa - The national museum which is absolutely free to public! The Museum of Wellington City & Sea, the City Gallery, the Wellington Cable Cars and much more are a short walk from where you'll stay! The waterfront is also a stunning place to spend the afternoon watching the boats come in and out of the bay. Overnight in Wellington.
Day 09: Wellington to Nelson via Interislander
Today you will travel to the South Island from Wellington on the Interislander Ferry. Enjoy the sights as you pass into Marlborough, which offers stunning views you will not forget. When you arrive into Picton, travel West to Nelson which is the gateway to Abel Tasman National Park, and overnight!
Day 10: Abel Tasman by Land & Sea Experience (L)
Today, you will be picked-up from your accommodation to embark on a journey that will restore your connection with nature. Start the day with an invigorating walk through lush native forest from Marahau to Anchorage. Feel the freedom, soak up the ambience and take in the views of New Zealand's coastal paradise. Join the sailing tour by 1:30pm from Anchorage beach for a visit to the Fur Seal colony. Then let nature do the work and sail back through the best of the Abel Tasman coastline via Split Apple Rock into the gorgeous resort community of Kaiteriteri (2.5hr sail & 4hr walk). Lunch is served on the boat along with morning and afternoon tea. At the end of the tour you will be dropped-off back at your Nelson accommodation for overnight.
Day 11: Nelson to Franz Josef
Today you will spend the whole day travelling from Nelson to the incredible town of Franz Josef where you will spend the night. The journey takes approx 10 hours but includes many stops along the way where you will have many chances to grab food!
Day 12: Franz Josef Glacier Valley Experience
The Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed, following the glacier's path as it winds its way through this remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier's history, see what this majestic giant leaves behind, and learn the legend of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere. Near the terminal face, after a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the glacier’s rapidly changing terminal face.
This leisurely and informative journey can be tailored to suit groups of most abilities and interests, so no trip is ever the same. Accessing some exclusive trails and including great storytelling from your experienced and well-trained guide, there has never been a more extraordinary time to visit the Franz Josef Glacier.
GLACIER HELI HIKE (US$350 pp)
The Franz Josef Glacier helicopter tour is a once in a lifetime experience that should not be missed. From the moment you step on board our chopper, your experience and highly trained pilot will whisk you away, up and over the jaw-dropping landscape.
HELI ICE CLIMB (US$422 pp)
The closest you can get to the Franz Josef Glacier. Glacier climbing in New Zealand is considered by many to be the best in the world, and no one does it better than Franz Josef Glacier Guides. Ice climbing at Franz Josef is a day packed with excitement and adventure, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.
Day 13: Franz Josef to Queenstown
Today we travel onward from Franz Josef to the Adventure Capital of New Zealand - if not the world - Queenstown! Queenstown is a scenic town in the South Island of New Zealand. It's one of the most beautiful regions and offers year round attractions. The town sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the Southern Alps. The most remarkable sight is the Remarkables, which is a saw-toothed range of mountains on the opposite side of the lake from the town. After arrival, check-in into your accommodation and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to settle in and overnight.
Day 14: Milford Sound Day Tour
Make your way to the departure point today, to visit Milford Sound, undoubtedly one of the world's most spectacular natural phenomena, and to journey along the 295km Milford Road through Fiordland National Park, equally impressive.
Leaving Queenstown, you will travel on modern comfortable buses that include informative and entertaining commentary from experienced local guides, along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and into southern farmland to Lake Te Anau, the largest lake in the South Island. After a morning tea stop (own expense), travel along the lake and into Fiordland National Park. Enter the picturesque Eglinton Valley, a place of ancient alpine forest and gushing waterfalls and one of only a few road-accessible glacier valleys in New Zealand, and take advantage of the photo opportunities on offer along the Milford Road, like the stunning Mirror Lakes, where on a calm day the surrounding mountain ranges are perfectly reflected in the still waters, and Knobs Flat, where glaciers have carved their mark on the terrain. Your glass-roof coach will provide amazing views of the dramatic skyline as you cross the Main Divide of the Southern Alps, with stunning mountain peaks all around. Stop at Monkey Creek and sample some of the purest water in the world (but watch out for cheeky kea-native mountain parrots!). Travel under the mountains through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km passageway drilled into solid rock, then experience The Chasm, a short but impressive walk over footbridges spanning a series of powerful, swirling waterfalls and rapids.
At Milford Sound, board your 1 hour 45 minute Southern Discoveries Scenic Cruise and set off to explore the region that Rudyard Kipling called the Eighth Wonder of the World. Travel the length of the fiord and out to the Tasman Sea, gliding past glacier-scarred rock walls and waterfalls that tumble through valleys and crash into the sea far below. Lush native forest clings to steep cliffs, while wildlife including seals, penguins and dolphins are regular visitors to the icy waters. Mountain ranges surround the fiord, including Mitre Peak which rises dramatically from the depths to a height of 1,692 metres above sea level. During your cruise the crew will entertain you with commentary on the natural history and wildlife of the area, and the large top deck allows amazing viewing and panoramic photo opportunities. Large covered seating areas and viewing windows are located on other levels.
After your cruise, return to Queenstown by bus and overnight.
Day 15: Queenstown Free Day
Today is free to enjoy yourself in Queenstown. There are so many things to see and do here, it's impossible to ever get bored! Some optional activities include:
SHOTOVER JET (US$128 pp)
Prepare yourself for the ultimate Jet Boating experience with Shotover Jet - the unique, breathtaking white water ride and adrenaline rush you’ll never forget.
-15,000ft - EXOSFEAR / 200KPH (US$415 pp)
-12,000ft - STRATOSFEAR / 200KPH (US$321 pp)
-9,000ft - TROPOSFEAR / 200KPH (US$283 pp)
Day 16: Queenstown to Christchurch
Today we say goodbye to Queenstown and make the long journey to Christchurch where you will spend your last night. This trip takes between 8 & 9 hours and offers some really incredible scenery along the way. On arrival check-in into your new accommodation and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to relax and enjoy the southern New Zealand vibe.
Day 17: Christchurch Airport Drop-off
Today is your last day of the trip. Enjoy the morning in Christchurch before checking out of your accommodation in time to catch your return airport transfer, where this amazing adventure will come to an end.