Highlights of New Zealand
Introduction – This is a fascinating place – New Zealand! Our 15-day trip wraps up the must-sees of both the North and South islands with a nice little bow. Consider this your New Zealand starter kit. The supplier of choice style of travel and the region we’ll visit, well, travel can be unpredictable. There is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us, so, any travel times listed are approximations and subject to a variety of circumstances. Welcome Aboard!
Service Level: Standard – Comfortable tourist-class accommodations; mix of public and private transport
Physical Grading: 3 – Average – May include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking
Travel Style: Classic – All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments
Trip Type: Small Group – Max 16; aged 12 w/guardian 21 years; 18 yr. olds can travel unaccompanied
Transportation: Transportation between destinations and to/from included activities is included
15 Days From Auckland to Christchurch
Day 1 Auckland – Arrive at any time; no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting, so head out and enjoy the city. This tour departs Auckland early on Day 2. If you are interested in exploring the city and its attractions, it is recommended you book additional pre-trip hotel nights.
*Your Welcome Moment: Meet Your “CEO” and fellow travelers, and learn more about your tour. Opt to join the group for a local meal afterwards. Don’t forget to ask reception for the official time and place to meet up with the group.
Day 1 Optional Activities:
Waiheke Island Excursion – Take a ferry ride to Waiheke Island for a quick, fun getaway. Swim or kayak at white-sand beaches in the Gulf or tour the island’s tracks and bush reserves.
Maritime Museum Visit – Tour the museum’s seven galleries to learn more about New Zealand’s relationship with the sea. Be inspired by the country’s most celebrated mariner, Sir Peter Blake, and his many accomplishments, and see maritime art that speaks to the sentiment of a nautical nation.
Auckland Sailing: America’s Cup Experience (Pre Tour) – As part of the boat crew, you’ll work together with your teammates to sail around Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour in this competitive yacht. Either take the helm and participate or sit back and enjoy the spectacle – the choice is yours.
Day 2 Auckland/Hahei – Depart early for the stunning Coromandel Peninsula. Take a walk to Cathedral Cove or opt in favor of kayaking. If the tide is right, dig a natural jacuzzi in the sand on Hot Water Beach.
Coromandel Peninsula Visit – Hahei – This scenic region is one of many in New Zealand; set off into the forest in search of the elusive “Hairy Moehau” monster; check out the beaches and cliffs and keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales. Make friends with the locals, including “hippies” who arrived in the 1970s and never left.
Cathedral Cove Scenic Walk: 1-1.5 h – Pack your swimsuit and walk from the north end of Hahei Beach along a cliff-top path that leads down to Cathedral Cove. A giant arch formed into the headland separates two secluded coves. Swim, lay in the shade, and enjoy the beauty of this idyllic spot.
*Your Wellness Moment: Hot Water Beach Excursion: This Beach is a unique spot on the Coromandel Peninsula. If the tide is right, you can dig into the sand to create a natural jacuzzi!
Day 2 Optional Activities:
Sea Kayaking – Hahei – 115NZD/pp – Experience the area from sea level.
Hahei Boat Cruise – Hahei – 85NZD/pp – Hop on board and cruise the coast of the Coromandel Peninsula. Check out caves, an impressive blowhole, and enjoy views of stunning Cathedral Cove from the water. Keep on the lookout for marine life such as dolphins, seals and seabirds.
Meals included: Dinner – Accommodation – Tatahi Lodge Hahei (or similar)
Day 3 Rotorua/Maori Village – Visit Rotorua and opt to check out the geothermal area or go whitewater rafting. Later, enjoy a cultural overnight in a Maori village featuring a traditional hangi dinner and show. Rotorua sits over an active volcano with bubbling mud pits and multi-colored pools in different areas around the town. Opt to visit one of many sites, or go whitewater rafting nearby. In the evening visit a Maori village for traditional ceremonies, a Hangi meal and entertainment. Later, lounge by the bonfire and for time with our Maori hosts.
*Your Local Living Moment: Maori Village Overnight Visit: Receive the traditional Powhiri welcome ceremony followed by a captivating stage performance explaining Maori history and culture. For dinner, enjoy a traditional Hangi meal, similar to the Hawaiian Luau, with dishes cooked in the ground. After, enjoy some quiet time with our Maori hosts by a fire.
Day 3 Optional Activities:
White Water Rafting – Rotorua – 89NZD/pp – Get your adrenaline fix on this exhilarating white water rafting trip. Enjoy the amazing scenery along the way, but don’t forget to paddle!
Zorbing – Rotorua – 35-50NZD/pp – Hop into a giant inflatable ball and take a thrilling ride down Mt Ngongotaha. This outrageously fun and bizarre ride is a must-do when in Rotorua, so don’t miss out!
Mountain Biking – Rotorua – 2h-4h – 35-130NZD/pp – Head out on an exhilarating cycling adventure. Explore the stunning Redwood Forest on two wheels on what some call the world’s best mountain biking trails. Whether you’re a beginner or expert mountain bike enthusiast there’s sure to be a perfect trail.
Hot Springs – Rotorua – 30-50NZD/pp – Soak tired muscles in the area’s natural hot springs and let the mineral water work its magic. Rotorua is home to a number of amazing geothermal parks – be sure you don’t miss the healing and relaxing benefits of the city’s naturally heated waters.
Meals included: Dinner – Accommodation – Tamaki Maori Village (or similar)
Day 4 Rotorua/Wellington – Take in the ever-changing scenery and travel to the capital, Wellington.
Meals included: Breakfast – Accommodation – C Hotel Wellington (or similar)
Day 5 Wellington – Enjoy the atmosphere in this relaxed but lively city. After an orientation walk, enjoy a free day to explore. Opt to visit the Te Papa Museum or take the cable car up to the botanical gardens.
Orientation Walk – 30m-1h – Enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. For more specific or in-depth information, an official guided tour is recommended. Enjoy your free time in Wellington; Spend some time exploring the city.
Day 5 Optional Activities:
Te Papa Museum Visit – Wellington – 30m-6h – Free – Visit this must-see museum, home to displays of historical Maori artifacts and modern exhibits.
Wellington Cable Car – Wellington – 4-7.50NZD/pp
Zealandia – Wellington – 9-95NZD/pp –
Weta Workshop Tour – Wellington – 25-65NZD/pp – This guided tour will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how the workshop crafts and creates the imaginary realities of films. See creativity in action as crew members practice their trade; get up close with props from The Lord of the Rings; The Chronicles of Narnia.
Meals included: Breakfast – Accommodation – C Hotel Wellington (or similar)
Day 6 Wellington/Kaikoura – Board a ferry to the South Island, then travel to the seaside town of Kaikoura, known for its diverse marine life. The train operates seasonally; a public bus during the winter months.
Day 6 Optional Activities:
Hiking – Kaikoura – 2h-10h Free – Set off along one of many hiking trails to take in the beautiful scenery surrounding Kaikoura.
Scenic Flight – Kaikoura – 135-180NZD/pp – Take a 30-minute flight in search of whales, dolphins, and other marine life. On land, you’ll see Maori sites, Kaikoura town and New Zealand’s southern fur seals.
Accommodation – White Morph (or similar)
Day 7 Kaikoura/Hanmer Springs – Opt to swim with dolphins or whale watching before travelling to Hanmer Springs. Then soak in the hot springs. Enjoy free time at Hammer Springs and the surroundings.
Day 7 Optional Activities:
Whale Watching – Kaikoura – 3.5h 145NZD/pp – Follow in the path of Paikea, the Maori “whale rider”, and set out in search of Giant Whales as they spray and dive through the waters.
Swimming With Dolphins – Kaikoura – 3-4h – 170NZD/pp – Hop aboard a boat and head out to the open seas to search for wild dusky dolphins. Most groups have 20-40 minutes of swim time.
Accommodation – Drifters Inn Hanmer Springs (or similar)
Day 8 Hanmer Springs/Franz Josef – Take in the stunning scenery while travelling across the Southern Alps to the rugged and remote West Coast, before staying in the rainforest near the fastest moving glacier.
Meals included: Breakfast – Accommodation – Rainforest Retreat (or similar)
Day 9 Franz Josef – Enjoy a free day to explore the area around Franz Josef. Explore the glacier with a heli hike. There are dozens of optional activities in the area to suit just about any budget and preference. Try heli hiking, scenic helicopter flights, quad biking, skydiving, glacier valley walk, lake kayaking or hot pools.
*Your Discover Moment: Franz Josef Full Day – There’s plenty to see and do, feel free to relax or try activities like a glacial or helicopter hike or quad biking. Your CEO has more ideas. Just Ask!
Day 9 Optional Activities:
Helicopter Hike – Franz Josef – 3-4h – 459-539NZD/pp – Take a once-in-a-lifetime helicopter ride high up on Franz Josef Glacier. Hop out and trek on the white and blue ice. Cool!
Franz Josef Kayaking – Franz Josef – 3-4h – 99-129NZD/pp – Explore the stunning Lake Mapourika by kayak. This lake was created as the Franz Josef glacier retreated 14,000 years ago, and the still water has created a natural mirror allowing you to soak in the incredible panoramic views.
Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk – Franz Josef – 79NZD/pp – Enjoy spectacular views on a guided interpretive walk that follows a riverbed along the Franz Josef Glacier’s retreat. At the end, you’ll be rewarded.
Franz Josef Quad Bike – Franz Josef – 65-160NZD/pp – Hop aboard the two-seater ATV quad and drive along ancient glacial pathways carved into the landscape by ice and water. Be amazed at what lies around every twist and turn as you are guided through rainforests, riverbeds, grasslands, sand and mud. Feel the thrill of fresh air in your face and the excitement of riding in the wild.
Hiking – Franz Josef – 30m-8h – Free – Take your pick of many scenic and memorable treks in Franz Josef – a true hiker’s haven. Get prepared before heading out, and be mindful of signs along the track. See majestic mountains, glaciers, rivers, and amazing views that you’ll definitely want your camera on hand for.
Meals included: Breakfast – Accommodation – Rainforest Retreat (or similar)
Day 10 Franz Josef/Queenstown – Continue to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. With beautiful scenery and tons of activities, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy the great night life.
Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar)
Day 11 Queenstown – With free time here, opt to go bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, paragliding, hiking or mountain biking. Or take it a little slower and travel by gondola to the top of a local peak.
*Your Discover Moment: Queenstown Full Day – There’s plenty to see and do, and you have plenty of time to take it all in. Feel free to relax or try optional activities like mountain biking, bungee jumping, and jet boating. Your CEO has more ideas if you need them. Just Ask!
Day 11 Optional Activities:
Bungee Jumping – Queenstown – 1-4h – 165-205NZD/pp – Adrenaline junkies will be happy with a stop at the world’s original commercial bungee site (bungy in New Zealand!). Opt to take the plunge or simply observe where it all started from the comfort of solid ground. Shoot some amazing photos of those brave enough to dive into the abyss.
Skydiving – Queenstown – 299-459NZD/pp – Enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of Queenstown from an eagle’s perspective. Suit up, get briefed and board the prop plane to soar high about the rugged alpine landscape. Strap onto your instructor, take a breath and leap into a once-in-a-lifetime free fall!
Gondola Ride – Queenstown- 1-2.5h – 35-56NZD/pp – Take a ride up to the top of the mountain by cable car gondola. Get a spectacular 220º view of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu below.
Paragliding – Queenstown – 30m – 210NZD/pp – Hang on! Get a birds-eye view of Queenstown.
Earnslaw Steamship Cruise – Queenstown – 55-95NZD/pp – Discover the breathtaking Lake Wakatipu aboard the TSS Earnslaw, a 103 year old traditional steamship. This cruise highlights that stunning alpine scenery that surrounds Queenstown, and lets you check out the views while relaxing on deck.
Scenic Horse Riding Tour – Queenstown – 165-325NZD/pp – Head out on a scenic horse ride and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Te Wahipounamu, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the southwest of New Zealand. Take in the breathtaking views on your journey of discovery through the magnificent Dart Valley – the backdrop for many famous film locations.
Ziptrek – Queenstown – 120-170NZD/pp
Shotover Canyon Swing/Shotover Canyon Fox – Queenstown – 2-3.5h – 169-299NZD/pp – The ultimate in adrenaline activities, this is the world’s highest cliff jump! Jump off a cliff and swing into a canyon on the 109m high Canyon Swing or the 182m high Canyon Fox. This is sure to get your heart pumping!
Queenstown Jet Boating – Queenstown – It’s a jet boat ride along the Shotover River of Queenstown — need we say more? Okay, how about this, imagine a fast-paced whitewater ride with sharp turns and spins expertly navigated by a trained driver. So strap in and get ready to get wet.
Meals included: Breakfast – Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar)
Day 12 Queenstown – Enjoy the stunning scenery of Fiordland National Park and Doubtful Sound on a day cruise. Take in the waterfalls and wildlife, then return to Queenstown for the night.
Doubtful Sound Wilderness Cruise – Doubtful Sound – Cruise through the stunning Doubtful Sound, one of the most untouched, remote places in the world. The only way to get here is by boat across Lake Manapouri, then bus across Wilmont Pass to Doubtful Sound. Marvel at the steep cliff walls and cascading waterfalls, and keep an eye out for area wildlife: dolphins, penguins, seals, and a variety of birds. This isolated part of New Zealand is truly a special place!
Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch – Accommodation – Heartland Hotel Queenstown (or similar)
Day 13 Queenstown/Twizel – Head through the centre of the South Island to Twizel, near New Zealand’s highest peak, Mt Cook. Visit Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and spend the afternoon hiking the region, taking in the alpine scenery. Learn more about mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary at the Visitor’s Centre.
Aoraki/Mount Cook Visit – Mount Cook – Aoraki/Mount Cook is both a village, a national park and the name of New Zealand’s highest mountain. Located in central South Island, the park includes a mix of rocks and glaciers, as well as alpine plants including the world’s largest buttercup, the Mount Cook lily. There are several short walks that reward with spectacular views.
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park Visitor Centre – Mount Cook – Stop by the visitor’s centre.
Meals included: Breakfast – Accommodation – Mountain Chalet Twizel (or similar)
Day 14 Twizel/Christchurch – Continue on to Christchurch and learn about how the city was rebuilt after the earthquake in 2011. Enjoy one final night together. Travel to the Garden City of Christchurch, a little piece of England in New Zealand, still recovering from a devastating earthquake. Enjoy a free evening out.
*Your Good Moment: Resourceful Otautahi Walking Tour – Explore lesser-known paths around Christchurch on this walking tour of the city led by a member of Rekindle — a social enterprise where resourcefulness skills are shared among members to build self-confidence and create art out of undervalued materials. The hands-on, workshop-based environment keeps everyone engaged and helps to strengthen the community.
Accommodation – All Stars Inn on Bealey (or similar)
Day 15 Christchurch – Depart for the USA at any time. Meal included: Breakfast
- The train on the south island is seasonal, day 6 and 7 will be a public bus during this time period.
- Wi-Fi and Internet access is not as readily available, there can be extra charges and varying speeds.
- Public holidays may cause some limitations/disruption/delays of services to schedules.
- Travel Insurance – Highly Recommended. Please keep all policy info and paperwork with you.
Group Leader Description – Your group trip is accompanied by one of our leaders, AKA Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO is experienced in the routes traveled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes. The aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. The CEO will have a broad general knowledge of the country including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects; and offer suggestions for things to do and to see, and where to eat.
Meals, Transportation and Accommodations: Included – 8 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners – You’ll experience a vast array of wonderful food. Our vans are mini-coaches; or a comfortable 13-seater vehicle. All mini-coaches tow a trailer for luggage. Your CEO, is also the driver; trains and ferries are transportation, also. Hotels/motels (13 nights), Maori village (1 night, multi-share). Bathroom and/or showering facilities are shared. Please note that if you have booked the “My Own Room” option, you will receive your own solo accommodation.
When You Arrive – On Day 1 there are no planned activities. You will meet other tour participants and receive information about various aspects of the trip. Transportation from the airport is not provided but we will help arrange that part of the trip with you. If you experience delays/complications, we will help you work through those as well by using the accepted emergency contact information.
What to Take – Using this supplier requires some planning and we will help you plan what to take in consideration of the climate and the destination. Travel will require a valid passport, so don’t forget to pack it along with copies in various places. Money is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), but credit cards are an acceptable method of purchase; be sure to notify your bank of your travel plans; maybe carry $200 in cash for emergencies. No tipping allowed except in exceptional circumstances.
Planeterra-The Supplier Foundation – This is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems. It also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into global itineraries. This supplier is the largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
Your vacation ends with checkout from your hotel and a flight home.
Give TravelKatz, Kathryn or Sandra, a call at 352-277-7300 to discuss the possibilities of this fascinating vacation. And don’t forget about your next vacation – perhaps to Australia.